Implications of increased Greenland surface melt under global-warming scenarios: Ice-sheet simulations

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The Greenland ice sheet is likely to make a faster contribution to sea-level rise in a warming world than previously believed, based on numerical modelling using a parameterization of recent results showing surface-meltwater lubrication of ice flow. Zwally et al. (Science 297(557) (2002) 218) documented correlation between increased ice velocity and increased surface melt (as parameterized by positive degree days). They argued that surface water is piped directly to the bed with little delay, causing increased basal-water pressures and basal-sliding velocities, an effect not included in recent Greenland ice-sheet models known to the authors. Using the Pennsylvania State University/University of Chicago thermomechanical flowline model, numerous simulations were conducted to test a wide range of parameter space linking surface melt with a new sliding law based on the Zwally et al. data under three different global warming scenarios (2×CO2, 4×CO 2, and 8×CO2). Comparisons to reconstructions generated with a traditional sliding parameterization illustrate an enhanced sensitivity of the ice sheet to surface warming resulting in higher ablation rates, additional thinning and retreat of the margin, and a reduction in ice volume leading to an increased contribution to global sea-level rise.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1013-1027
Number of pages15
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
Issue number9-10
StatePublished - May 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology
  • Geology


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