Journal cover Journal topic
The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
doi:10.5194/tc-2016-281
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
22 Dec 2016
Review status
This discussion paper is under review for the journal The Cryosphere (TC).
Influence of albedo parameterization on surface mass balance in the perspective of Greenland ice sheet modelling in EC-Earth
Michiel Helsen1, Roderik Van de Wal1, Thomas Reerink1, Richard Bintanja2, Marianne Sloth Madsen3, Shuting Yang3, Qiang Li4, and Qiong Zhang4 1Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research Utrecht, Utrecht University, The Netherlands
2Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute, De Bilt, The Netherlands
3Danish Meteorological Institute, Copenhagen, Denmark
4Bolin Centre for Climate Research, Department of Physical Geography, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
Abstract. The albedo of the surface of ice sheets changes as a function of time, due to the effects of deposition of new snow, ageing of dry snow, melting and runoff. Currently, the calculation of the albedo of ice sheets is highly parameterized within the Earth System Model EC-Earth, by taking a constant value for areas with thick perennial snow cover. This is one of the reasons that the surface mass balance (SMB) of the Greenland ice sheet (GrIS) is poorly resolved in the model. To improve this, eight snow albedo schemes are evaluated here. The resulting SMB is downscaled from the lower resolution global climate model topography to the higher resolution ice sheet topography of the GrIS, such that the influence of these different SMB climatologies on the long-term evolution of the GrIS is tested by ice sheet model simulations. This results in an optimised albedo parameterization that can be used in future EC-Earth simulations with an interactive ice sheet component.

Citation: Helsen, M., Van de Wal, R., Reerink, T., Bintanja, R., Sloth Madsen, M., Yang, S., Li, Q., and Zhang, Q.: Influence of albedo parameterization on surface mass balance in the perspective of Greenland ice sheet modelling in EC-Earth, The Cryosphere Discuss., doi:10.5194/tc-2016-281, in review, 2016.
Michiel Helsen et al.
Michiel Helsen et al.
Michiel Helsen et al.

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Short summary
Ice sheets reflect most of incoming solar radiation back into space thanks to their high reflectivity (albedo). The albedo of ice sheets changes as a function of e.g. liquid water content, and ageing of snow. In this study we have improved the description of albedo over the Greenland ice sheet in a global climate model. This is an important step that also improves estimates of the annual ice mass gain or loss over the ice sheet, using this global climate model.
Ice sheets reflect most of incoming solar radiation back into space thanks to their high...
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