Climate of the Greenland ice sheet using a high-resolution climate model – Part 2: Near-surface climate and energy balance
1Institute for Marine and Atmospheric research Utrecht, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands
2Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute, De Bilt, The Netherlands
Abstract. The near-surface climate of the Greenland ice sheet is characterized by persistent katabatic winds and quasi-permanent temperature deficit. Using a high resolution (11 km) regional climate model allows for detailed study of the spatial variability in these phenomena and the underlying atmospheric processes.
The near-surface temperature distribution over the ice sheet is clearly affected by elevation, latitude, large scale advection, meso-scale topographic features and the occurrence of summer melt. The lowest annual temperatures of −30.5 °C are found north of the highest elevations of the GrIS, whereas the lowest southern margins are warmest (−3.5 °C).
Over the ice sheet, a persistent katabatic wind system develops due to radiative surface cooling and the gently slope of the surface. The strongest wind speeds are seen in the northeast where the strong large scale winds, low cloud cover and concave surface force a continuous supply of cold air, which enhances the katabatic forcing. The radiative cooling of the surface is controlled by the net longwave emission and transport of heat towards the surface by turbulence. In summer this mechanism is much weaker, leading to less horizontal variability in near-surface temperatures and wind speed.