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Discussion papers | Copyright
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 16 Nov 2017

Research article | 16 Nov 2017

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Earth System Dynamics (ESD).

The effect of overshooting 1.5 °C global warming on the mass loss of the Greenland Ice Sheet

Martin Rückamp1, Ulrike Falk1, Katja Frieler2, Stefan Lange2, and Angelika Humbert1,3 Martin Rückamp et al.
  • 1Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Bremerhaven, Germany
  • 2Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Potsdam, Germany
  • 3University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany

Abstract. Sea level rise associated with changing climate is expected to pose a major challenge for societies. Here, we estimate the future contribution of the Greenland ice sheet (GrIS) to sea level change in terms of different ice sheet atmospheric forcings arising from three general circulation models (GCMs), HadGEM2-ES, IPSL-CM5A-LR and MIROC5, for RCP2.6. We run the ice sheet model ISSM with higher order approximation and use a spin-up/inversion scheme to estimate the present day state. The forcing fields for surface mass balance (SMB) and ice surface temperature Ts are computed by the SEMIC model (Krapp et al., 2017) and applied as anomalies to RACMO2.3 fields. According to the three GCMs, warming of 1.5°C has been reached at GrIS by 2005 (HadGEM2-ES, MIROC5) or as early as 1995 (IPSL-CM5A-LR). Forcing fields suffer from underestimation of polar amplification (MIROC5) and implausible distribution of changes in Ts (IPSL-CM5A-LR). HadGEM2-ES is the most plausible forcing, with globally a peak and decline behaviour leading to overshooting of 1.5°C and over GrIS a slight recovery of SMB towards values of about half the present day SMB. We find sea level to rise for HadGEM2-ES by 71mm by 2100 and 189mm by 2300. Simulated an observed sea level rise 2002–2014 is of the same magnitude, but with a temporal lag to be at least five years (HadGEM2-ES). By end of 22nd century sea level contribution is still 0.46mm/a for HadGEM2-ES. Hence, even a RCP2.6 peak and decline scenario will lead to significant changes of GrIS including elevation changes up to 100m and loss of floating tongues. The values of this study may serve as a lower bound, as processes proven to play a major role in GrIS mass loss are not yet represented by the model, but are considerably larger than other studies.

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Martin Rückamp et al.
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