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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2018-142
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2018-142
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 07 Aug 2018

Research article | 07 Aug 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal The Cryosphere (TC).

Anomalous acceleration of mass loss in the Greenland ice sheet drainage basins and its contribution to the sea level fingerprints during 2010–2012

Linsong Wang1,2, Liangjing Zhang2, Chao Chen1, Maik Thomas2,3, and Mikhail K. Kaban2 Linsong Wang et al.
  • 1Hubei Subsurface Multi-scale Imaging Key Laboratory, Institute of Geophysics and Geomatics, China University of Geosciences, Wuhan 430074, China
  • 2Helmholtz Centre Potsdam, GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Telegrafenberg, Potsdam 14473, Germany
  • 3Institute of Meteorology, Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany

Abstract. The sea level rise contributed from ice sheet melting has been accelerating due to global warming. Continuous melting of the Greenland ice sheet (GrIS) is a major contributor to sea level rise, which impacts directly on the surface mass balance and the instantaneous elastic response of the solid Earth. To study the sea level fingerprints (SLF) caused by the anomalous acceleration of the mass loss in GrIS can help us to understand drivers of sea level changes due to global warming and the frequently abnormal climate events. In this study, we focus on the anomalous acceleration of the mass loss in GrIS at the drainage basins from 2010 to 2012 and on its contributions to SLF and relative sea level (RSL) changes based on self-attraction and loading effects. Using GRACE monthly gravity fields and surface mass balance (SMB) data spanning 13 years between 2003 and 2015, the spatial and temporal distribution of the ice sheet balance in Greenland is estimated by mascons fitting based on six extended drainage basins and matrix scaling factors. Then the SLF spatial variations are computed by solving the sea level equation. Our results indicate that the total ice sheet mass loss is contributed from few regions only in Greenland, i.e., from the northwest, central west, southwestern and southeastern parts. Especially along the north-west coast and the south-east coast, ice was melting significantly during 2010–2012. The total mass loss rates during 2003–2015 are −288±7Gt/yr and −275±1Gt/yr as derived from scaled GRACE data and SMB respectively; and the magnitude of the trend increased to −456±30Gt/yr and to −464±38Gt/yr correspondingly over the period 2010–2012. The residuals obtained by GRACE after removing SMB show a good agreement with the surface elevation change rates derived from pervious ICESat results, which reflect a contribution from glacial dynamics to the total ice mass changes. Melting of GrIS results in decreased RSL in Scandinavia and North Europe, up to about −0.6cm/yr. The far-field peak increase is less dependent on the precise pattern of self-attraction and loading; and the average global RSL was raised by 0.07cm/yr only. Greenland contributes about 31% of the total terrestrial water storage transferring to the sea level rise from 2003 to 2015. We also found that variations of the GrIS contribution to sea level have an opposite V shape (i.e., from rising to falling) during 2010–2012, while a clear global mean sea level drop also took place (i.e., from falling to rising).

Linsong Wang et al.
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Linsong Wang et al.
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Short summary
The Greenland ice sheet (GrIS) variations estimated from GRACE gravity fields and SMB data have been investigated with respect to ice melting of Greenland and its contributions to sea level changes. Greenland contributes about 31 % of the total terrestrial water storage transferring to the sea level rise from 2003 to 2015. We also found that variations of the GrIS contribution to sea level have an opposite V shape during 2010–2012, while a clear global mean sea level drop also took place.
The Greenland ice sheet (GrIS) variations estimated from GRACE gravity fields and SMB data have...
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