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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-2019-103
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2019-103
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 22 May 2019

Research article | 22 May 2019

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

Recent Precipitation Decrease Across the Western Greenland Ice Sheet Percolation Zone

Gabriel Lewis1, Erich Osterberg1, Robert Hawley1, Hans Peter Marshall2, Tate Meehan2, Karina Graeter3, Forrest McCarthy4, Thomas Overly5,6, Zayta Thundercloud1, and David Ferris1 Gabriel Lewis et al.
  • 1Department of Earth Sciences, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH, USA
  • 2Geosciences Department, Boise State University, Boise, ID, USA
  • 3Office of Sustainability, University of Maine, Orono, ME, USA
  • 4College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK, USA
  • 5NASA Cryospheric Sciences Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, USA
  • 6Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center (ESSIC), University of Maryland, College Park, MD, USA

Abstract. The mass balance of the Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS) in a warming climate is of critical interest to scientists and the general public in the context of future sea-level rise. Increased melting in the GrIS percolation zone due to atmospheric warming over the past several decades has led to increased mass loss at lower elevations. Previous studies have hypothesized that this warming is accompanied by a precipitation increase, as would be expected from the Clausius-Clapeyron relationship, negating some of the melt-induced mass loss throughout the Western GrIS. This study tests that hypothesis by calculating snow accumulation rates and trends across the Western GrIS percolation zone, providing new critical accumulation estimates in regions with sparse and/or dated in situ data for calibration of future regional climate models. We present accumulation records from sixteen 22–32 m long firn cores and 4436 km of ground penetrating-radar, covering the past 20–60 years of accumulation, collected across the Western GrIS percolation zone as part of the Greenland Traverse for Accumulation and Climate Studies (GreenTrACS) project. Trends from both radar and firn cores, as well as commonly used regional climate models, show decreasing accumulation and precipitation over the 1996–2016 period, which we attribute to shifting storm-tracks related to stronger atmospheric summer blocking over Greenland. Changes in atmospheric circulation over the past 20 years, specifically anomalously high summertime blocking, have reduced GrIS surface mass balance through both an increase in surface melting and a decrease in accumulation.

Gabriel Lewis et al.
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Short summary
We present accumulation records from sixteen 22–32 m long firn cores and 4436 km of ground penetrating-radar, covering the past 20–60 years of accumulation, collected across the Western Greenland Ice Sheet percolation zone. Trends from both radar and firn cores, as well as commonly used regional climate models, show decreasing accumulation and precipitation over the 1996–2016 period.
We present accumulation records from sixteen 22–32 m long firn cores and 4436 km of ground...
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