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Climate of the Past An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  24 Mar 2020

24 Mar 2020

Review status
A revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal CP.

Sea-ice feedbacks influence the isotopic signature of Greenland Ice Sheet elevation changes: Last Interglacial HadCM3 simulations

Irene Malmierca-Vallet1,2, Louise C. Sime1, Paul J. Valdes2, and Julia C. Tindall3 Irene Malmierca-Vallet et al.
  • 1British Antarctic Survey, High Cross, Madingley Road, Cambridge, CB3 0ET, UK
  • 2School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol, University Road, Bristol, BS8 1SS, UK
  • 3School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT, UK

Abstract. Changes in the Greenland ice sheet (GIS) affect global sea level. Greenland stable water isotope (δ18O) records from ice cores offer information on past changes in the surface of the GIS. Here, we use the isotope-enabled HadCM3 climate model to simulate a set of Last Interglacial (LIG) idealised GIS surface elevation change scenarios focusing on GIS ice core sites. We investigate how δ18O depends on the magnitude and sign of GIS elevation change and evaluate how the response is altered by sea ice changes. We find that modifying GIS elevation induces changes in Northern Hemisphere atmospheric circulation, sea ice and precipitation patterns. These climate feedbacks lead to ice core-averaged isotopic lapse rates of 0.49 ‰ per 100 m for the lowered GIS states and 0.29 ‰ per 100 m for the enlarged GIS states. This is lower than the spatially derived Greenland lapse rates of 0.62–0.72 ‰ per 100 m. These results thus suggest non-linearities in the isotope-elevation relationship, and have consequences for the interpretation of past elevation and climate changes across Greenland. In particular, our results suggest that winter sea ice changes may significantly influence isotopic-elevation gradients: winter sea ice effect can decrease (increase) modelled core-averaged isotopic lapse rate values by about -19 % (and +28 %) for the lowered (enlarged) GIS states respectively. The largest influence of sea ice on δ18O changes is found in coastal regions like the Camp Century site.

Irene Malmierca-Vallet et al.

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Irene Malmierca-Vallet et al.

Irene Malmierca-Vallet et al.


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