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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2018-218
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2018-218
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 29 Oct 2018

Research article | 29 Oct 2018

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

A surface energy and mass balance model for simulations over multiple glacial cycles

Andreas Born1,2,3,4, Michael A. Imhof3,5, and Thomas F. Stocker3,4 Andreas Born et al.
  • 1Department of Earth Science, University of Bergen
  • 2Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, University of Bergen
  • 3Climate and Environmental Physics, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
  • 4Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
  • 5Laboratory of Hydraulics, Hydrology and Glaciology, ETH Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland

Abstract. A comprehensive understanding of the state and dynamics of the land cryosphere and associated sea level rise is not possible without taking into consideration the intrinsic time scales of the continental ice sheets. At the same time, the ice sheet mass balance is the result of seasonal variations in the meteorological conditions. Simulations of the coupled climate-ice sheet system thus face the dilemma of skillfully resolving short-lived phenomena, while also being computationally fast enough to run over tens of thousands of years. Further complications arise from the fact that the mass balance is a small residual of various contributions that individually are much larger, and that even a marginal bias will develop into an erroneous solution over the long integration time and when amplified by strong positive feedback mechanisms. As a possible solution, we present the BErgen Snow SImulator (BESSI), a surface energy and mass balance model that achieves computational efficiency while simulating all surface and internal fluxes of heat and mass explicitly and based on physical first principles. In its current configuration it covers most land areas of the Northern Hemisphere. Two large ensembles of simulations are investigated, one to calibrate the model and another one to assess its sensitivity to variations in air temperature.

Andreas Born et al.
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Short summary
We present a new numerical model to simulate the surface energy and mass balance of snow and ice. While similar models exist and cover a wide range of complexity from empirical models to those that simulate the microscopic structure of individual snow grains, we aim to strike a balance between physical completeness and numerical efficiency. This new model will enable physically accurate simulations over time scales of hundreds of millennia, a key requirement to investigate ice age cycles.
We present a new numerical model to simulate the surface energy and mass balance of snow and...
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