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Earth System Dynamics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-2019-78
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-2019-78
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 06 Jan 2020

Submitted as: research article | 06 Jan 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal ESD.

Precipitation Ansatz dependent Future Sea Level Contribution by Antarctica based on CMIP5 Model Forcing

Christian B. Rodehacke1,2, Madlene Pfeiffer1, Tido Semmler1, Özgür Gurses1, and Thomas Kleiner1 Christian B. Rodehacke et al.
  • 1Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, D-27570 Bremerhaven, Germany
  • 2Danish Meteorological Institute, DK-2100 Copenhagen Ø, Denmark

Abstract. Various observational estimates indicate growing mass loss at Antarctica's margins but also heavier precipitation across the continent. In the future, heavier precipitation fallen on Antarctica will counteract any stronger iceberg discharge and increased basal melting of floating ice shelves driven by a warming ocean. Here, we use from nine CMIP5 models future projections, ranging from strong mitigation efforts to business-as-usual, to run an ensemble of ice-sheet simulations. We test, how the precipitation boundary condition determines Antarctica's sea-level contribution. The spatial and temporal varying climate forcings drive ice-sheet simulations. Hence, our ensemble inherits all spatial and temporal climate patterns, which is in contrast to a spatial mean forcing. Regardless of the applied boundary condition and forcing, some areas will lose ice in the future, such as the glaciers from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet draining into the Amundsen Sea. In general the simulated ice-sheet thickness grows in a broad marginal strip, where incoming storms deliver topographically controlled precipitation. This strip shows the largest ice thickness differences between the applied precipitation boundary conditions too. On average Antarctica's ice mass shrinks for all future scenarios if the precipitation is scaled by the spatial temperature anomalies coming from the CMIP5 models. In this approach, we use the relative precipitation increment per degree warming as invariant scaling constant. In contrast, Antarctica gains mass in our simulations if we apply the simulated precipitation anomalies of the CMIP5 models directly. Here, the scaling factors show a distinct spatial pattern across Antarctica. Furthermore, the diagnosed mean scaling across all considered climate forcings is larger than the values deduced from ice cores. In general, the scaling is higher across the East Antarctic Ice Sheet, lower across the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, and lowest around the Siple Coast. The latter is located on the east side of the Ross Ice Shelf.

Christian B. Rodehacke et al.

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Christian B. Rodehacke et al.

Christian B. Rodehacke et al.

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Latest update: 24 Feb 2020
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Short summary
In the warmer future, Antarctica's ice sheet will lose more ice by enhanced icebergs calving and a warming ocean that melts more floating ice from below. However, the hydrological cycle is also stronger in a warmer world. Hence, more snowfall precipitates on Antarctica, which may balance the amplified ice loss. We have used future climate scenarios from various global climate models to perform numerous ice-sheet simulations to show that precipitation may counteract the mass loss.
In the warmer future, Antarctica's ice sheet will lose more ice by enhanced icebergs calving and...
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