Observed and Modeled Greenland Ice Sheet Snow Accumulation, 1958–2003, and Links with Regional Climate Forcing

Edward Hanna Department of Geography, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, United Kingdom

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Joe McConnell Desert Research Institute, Reno, Nevada

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Sarah Das Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, Massachusetts

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John Cappelen Danish Meteorological Institute, Copenhagen, Denmark

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Ag Stephens British Atmospheric Data Centre, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Chilton, United Kingdom

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Abstract

Annual and monthly snow accumulation for the Greenland Ice Sheet was derived from ECMWF forecasts [mainly 40-yr ECMWR Re-Analysis (ERA-40)] and further meteorological modeling. Modeled accumulation was validated using 58 ice core accumulation datasets across the ice sheet and was found to be 95% of the observed accumulation on average, with a mean correlation of 0.53 between modeled and observed. Many of the ice core datasets are new and are presented here for the first time. Central and northern interior parts of the ice sheet were found to be ∼10%–30% too dry in ERA-40, in line with earlier ECMWF analysis, although too much (>50% locally) snow accumulation was modeled for interior southern parts of Greenland. Nevertheless, 47 of 58 sites show significant correlation in temporal variability of modeled with observed accumulation. The model also captures the absolute amount of snow accumulation at several sites, most notably Das1 and Das2 in southeast Greenland. Mean modeled accumulation over the ice sheet was 0.279 (standard deviation 0.034) m yr−1 for 1958–2003 with no significant trend for either the ice sheet or any of the core sites. Unusually high accumulation in southeast Greenland in 2002/03 leads the authors to study meteorological synoptic forcing patterns and comment on the prospect of enhanced climate variability leading to more such events as a result of global warming. There is good agreement between precipitation measured at coastal meteorological stations in southern Greenland and accumulation modeled for adjacent regions of the ice sheet. There is no significant persistent relation between the North Atlantic Oscillation index and whole or southern Greenland accumulation.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Edward Hanna, Department of Geography, University of Sheffield, Winter Street, Sheffield S10 2TN, United Kingdom. Email: ehanna@sheffield.ac.uk

Abstract

Annual and monthly snow accumulation for the Greenland Ice Sheet was derived from ECMWF forecasts [mainly 40-yr ECMWR Re-Analysis (ERA-40)] and further meteorological modeling. Modeled accumulation was validated using 58 ice core accumulation datasets across the ice sheet and was found to be 95% of the observed accumulation on average, with a mean correlation of 0.53 between modeled and observed. Many of the ice core datasets are new and are presented here for the first time. Central and northern interior parts of the ice sheet were found to be ∼10%–30% too dry in ERA-40, in line with earlier ECMWF analysis, although too much (>50% locally) snow accumulation was modeled for interior southern parts of Greenland. Nevertheless, 47 of 58 sites show significant correlation in temporal variability of modeled with observed accumulation. The model also captures the absolute amount of snow accumulation at several sites, most notably Das1 and Das2 in southeast Greenland. Mean modeled accumulation over the ice sheet was 0.279 (standard deviation 0.034) m yr−1 for 1958–2003 with no significant trend for either the ice sheet or any of the core sites. Unusually high accumulation in southeast Greenland in 2002/03 leads the authors to study meteorological synoptic forcing patterns and comment on the prospect of enhanced climate variability leading to more such events as a result of global warming. There is good agreement between precipitation measured at coastal meteorological stations in southern Greenland and accumulation modeled for adjacent regions of the ice sheet. There is no significant persistent relation between the North Atlantic Oscillation index and whole or southern Greenland accumulation.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Edward Hanna, Department of Geography, University of Sheffield, Winter Street, Sheffield S10 2TN, United Kingdom. Email: ehanna@sheffield.ac.uk

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