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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-2018-249
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2018-249
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 05 Dec 2018

Research article | 05 Dec 2018

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

The impact of model resolution on the simulated Holocene retreat of the Southwestern Greenland Ice Sheet using the Ice Sheet System Model (ISSM)

Joshua K. Cuzzone1,2, Nicole-Jeanne Schlegel2, Mathieu Morlighem1, Eric Larour2, Jason P. Briner3, Helene Serousi2, and Lambert Caron2 Joshua K. Cuzzone et al.
  • 1University of California, Irvine, Department of Earth System Science, Croul Hall, Irvine, CA 92697-3100, USA
  • 2Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, 4800 Oak Grove Drive MS 300-323, Pasadena, CA 91109-8099, USA
  • 3Department of Geology, University of Buffalo, Buffalo, NY USA

Abstract. Geologic archives constraining the variability of the Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS) during the Holocene provide targets for ice sheet models to test sensitivities to variations in past climate and model formulation. Even as data-model comparisons are becoming more common, many models simulating the behaviour of the GrIS during the past rely on meshes with coarse horizontal resolution (≥10km). In this study, we explore the impact of model resolution on the simulated nature of retreat across Southwestern Greenland during the Holocene. Four simulations are performed using the Ice Sheet System Model (ISSM); three which use a uniform mesh and horizontal mesh resolutions of 20km, 10km, and 5km and one non-uniform mesh with resolution ranging from 2km to 15km. We find that the simulated retreat can vary significantly between models with different horizontal resolutions based on how well the bed topography is resolved. In areas of low topographic relief, model resolution plays a negligible role in simulated differences in retreat, with models instead responding similarly to surface mass balance (SMB) driven retreat. Conversely, in areas where the bed topography is complex and high in relief, such as fjords, lower resolution models (10km and 20km) simulate unrealistic retreat driven as ice-surface lowering intersects bumps in the bed topography which would otherwise be resolved as troughs in the higher resolution models. Our results highlight the important role that high resolution grids play in simulating retreat in areas of complex bed topography, but also suggest that models using non-uniform grids can save computational resources through coarsening the mesh in areas of non-complex bed topography where the SMB drives retreat. Additionally, these results emphasize that care must be taken with ice sheet models when tuning model parameters to match reconstructed margins, particularly for lower resolution models in regions where complex bed topography is poorly resolved.

Joshua K. Cuzzone et al.
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Joshua K. Cuzzone et al.
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Short summary
We present results using an ice sheet model simulating the retreat of ice over Southwestern Greenland during the last 12,000 years, and test the impact of model horizontal resolution. Results indicate model resolution plays a minor role in simulated retreat in areas where bed topography is not complex, but plays an important role in areas where bed topography is complex (such as fjords).
We present results using an ice sheet model simulating the retreat of ice over Southwestern...
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