Spatial and temporal distribution of mass loss from the Greenland Ice Sheet since AD 1900

Kristian Kjellerup Kjeldsen, Niels J. Korsgaard, Anders A Bjørk, Shfaqat Abbas Khan, Jason E Box, Svend Funder, Nicolaj K Larsen, Jonathan L Bamber, William Colgan, Michiel van den Broeke, Marie-Louise Siggaard-Andersen, Christopher Nuth, Anders Schomacker, Camilla S Andresen, Eske Willerslev, Kurt H Kjær

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Abstract

The response of the Greenland Ice Sheet (GIS) to changes in temperature during the twentieth century remains contentious, largely owing to difficulties in estimating the spatial and temporal distribution of ice mass changes before 1992, when Greenland-wide observations first became available. The only previous estimates of change during the twentieth century are based on empirical modelling and energy balance modelling. Consequently, no observation-based estimates of the contribution from the GIS to the global-mean sea level budget before 1990 are included in the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Here we calculate spatial ice mass loss around the entire GIS from 1900 to the present using aerial imagery from the 1980s. This allows accurate high-resolution mapping of geomorphic features related to the maximum extent of the GIS during the Little Ice Age at the end of the nineteenth century. We estimate the total ice mass loss and its spatial distribution for three periods: 1900-1983 (75.1 ± 29.4 gigatonnes per year), 1983-2003 (73.8 ± 40.5 gigatonnes per year), and 2003-2010 (186.4 ± 18.9 gigatonnes per year). Furthermore, using two surface mass balance models we partition the mass balance into a term for surface mass balance (that is, total precipitation minus total sublimation minus runoff) and a dynamic term. We find that many areas currently undergoing change are identical to those that experienced considerable thinning throughout the twentieth century. We also reveal that the surface mass balance term shows a considerable decrease since 2003, whereas the dynamic term is constant over the past 110 years. Overall, our observation-based findings show that during the twentieth century the GIS contributed at least 25.0 ± 9.4 millimetres of global-mean sea level rise. Our result will help to close the twentieth-century sea level budget, which remains crucial for evaluating the reliability of models used to predict global sea level rise.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNature
Volume528
Pages (from-to)396-400
ISSN0028-0836
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Keywords

  • Cryospheric science
  • Climate change

Cite this

Kjeldsen, K. K., Korsgaard, N. J., Bjørk, A. A., Khan, S. A., Box, J. E., Funder, S., ... Kjær, K. H. (2015). Spatial and temporal distribution of mass loss from the Greenland Ice Sheet since AD 1900. Nature, 528, 396-400. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature16183
Kjeldsen, Kristian Kjellerup ; Korsgaard, Niels J. ; Bjørk, Anders A ; Khan, Shfaqat Abbas ; Box, Jason E ; Funder, Svend ; Larsen, Nicolaj K ; Bamber, Jonathan L ; Colgan, William ; van den Broeke, Michiel ; Siggaard-Andersen, Marie-Louise ; Nuth, Christopher ; Schomacker, Anders ; Andresen, Camilla S ; Willerslev, Eske ; Kjær, Kurt H. / Spatial and temporal distribution of mass loss from the Greenland Ice Sheet since AD 1900. In: Nature. 2015 ; Vol. 528. pp. 396-400.
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title = "Spatial and temporal distribution of mass loss from the Greenland Ice Sheet since AD 1900",
abstract = "The response of the Greenland Ice Sheet (GIS) to changes in temperature during the twentieth century remains contentious, largely owing to difficulties in estimating the spatial and temporal distribution of ice mass changes before 1992, when Greenland-wide observations first became available. The only previous estimates of change during the twentieth century are based on empirical modelling and energy balance modelling. Consequently, no observation-based estimates of the contribution from the GIS to the global-mean sea level budget before 1990 are included in the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Here we calculate spatial ice mass loss around the entire GIS from 1900 to the present using aerial imagery from the 1980s. This allows accurate high-resolution mapping of geomorphic features related to the maximum extent of the GIS during the Little Ice Age at the end of the nineteenth century. We estimate the total ice mass loss and its spatial distribution for three periods: 1900-1983 (75.1 ± 29.4 gigatonnes per year), 1983-2003 (73.8 ± 40.5 gigatonnes per year), and 2003-2010 (186.4 ± 18.9 gigatonnes per year). Furthermore, using two surface mass balance models we partition the mass balance into a term for surface mass balance (that is, total precipitation minus total sublimation minus runoff) and a dynamic term. We find that many areas currently undergoing change are identical to those that experienced considerable thinning throughout the twentieth century. We also reveal that the surface mass balance term shows a considerable decrease since 2003, whereas the dynamic term is constant over the past 110 years. Overall, our observation-based findings show that during the twentieth century the GIS contributed at least 25.0 ± 9.4 millimetres of global-mean sea level rise. Our result will help to close the twentieth-century sea level budget, which remains crucial for evaluating the reliability of models used to predict global sea level rise.",
keywords = "Cryospheric science, Climate change",
author = "Kjeldsen, {Kristian Kjellerup} and Korsgaard, {Niels J.} and Bj{\o}rk, {Anders A} and Khan, {Shfaqat Abbas} and Box, {Jason E} and Svend Funder and Larsen, {Nicolaj K} and Bamber, {Jonathan L} and William Colgan and {van den Broeke}, Michiel and Marie-Louise Siggaard-Andersen and Christopher Nuth and Anders Schomacker and Andresen, {Camilla S} and Eske Willerslev and Kj{\ae}r, {Kurt H}",
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Kjeldsen, KK, Korsgaard, NJ, Bjørk, AA, Khan, SA, Box, JE, Funder, S, Larsen, NK, Bamber, JL, Colgan, W, van den Broeke, M, Siggaard-Andersen, M-L, Nuth, C, Schomacker, A, Andresen, CS, Willerslev, E & Kjær, KH 2015, 'Spatial and temporal distribution of mass loss from the Greenland Ice Sheet since AD 1900', Nature, vol. 528, pp. 396-400. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature16183

Spatial and temporal distribution of mass loss from the Greenland Ice Sheet since AD 1900. / Kjeldsen, Kristian Kjellerup; Korsgaard, Niels J.; Bjørk, Anders A; Khan, Shfaqat Abbas; Box, Jason E; Funder, Svend; Larsen, Nicolaj K; Bamber, Jonathan L; Colgan, William; van den Broeke, Michiel; Siggaard-Andersen, Marie-Louise; Nuth, Christopher; Schomacker, Anders; Andresen, Camilla S; Willerslev, Eske; Kjær, Kurt H.

In: Nature, Vol. 528, 2015, p. 396-400.

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterResearchpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Spatial and temporal distribution of mass loss from the Greenland Ice Sheet since AD 1900

AU - Kjeldsen, Kristian Kjellerup

AU - Korsgaard, Niels J.

AU - Bjørk, Anders A

AU - Khan, Shfaqat Abbas

AU - Box, Jason E

AU - Funder, Svend

AU - Larsen, Nicolaj K

AU - Bamber, Jonathan L

AU - Colgan, William

AU - van den Broeke, Michiel

AU - Siggaard-Andersen, Marie-Louise

AU - Nuth, Christopher

AU - Schomacker, Anders

AU - Andresen, Camilla S

AU - Willerslev, Eske

AU - Kjær, Kurt H

PY - 2015

Y1 - 2015

N2 - The response of the Greenland Ice Sheet (GIS) to changes in temperature during the twentieth century remains contentious, largely owing to difficulties in estimating the spatial and temporal distribution of ice mass changes before 1992, when Greenland-wide observations first became available. The only previous estimates of change during the twentieth century are based on empirical modelling and energy balance modelling. Consequently, no observation-based estimates of the contribution from the GIS to the global-mean sea level budget before 1990 are included in the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Here we calculate spatial ice mass loss around the entire GIS from 1900 to the present using aerial imagery from the 1980s. This allows accurate high-resolution mapping of geomorphic features related to the maximum extent of the GIS during the Little Ice Age at the end of the nineteenth century. We estimate the total ice mass loss and its spatial distribution for three periods: 1900-1983 (75.1 ± 29.4 gigatonnes per year), 1983-2003 (73.8 ± 40.5 gigatonnes per year), and 2003-2010 (186.4 ± 18.9 gigatonnes per year). Furthermore, using two surface mass balance models we partition the mass balance into a term for surface mass balance (that is, total precipitation minus total sublimation minus runoff) and a dynamic term. We find that many areas currently undergoing change are identical to those that experienced considerable thinning throughout the twentieth century. We also reveal that the surface mass balance term shows a considerable decrease since 2003, whereas the dynamic term is constant over the past 110 years. Overall, our observation-based findings show that during the twentieth century the GIS contributed at least 25.0 ± 9.4 millimetres of global-mean sea level rise. Our result will help to close the twentieth-century sea level budget, which remains crucial for evaluating the reliability of models used to predict global sea level rise.

AB - The response of the Greenland Ice Sheet (GIS) to changes in temperature during the twentieth century remains contentious, largely owing to difficulties in estimating the spatial and temporal distribution of ice mass changes before 1992, when Greenland-wide observations first became available. The only previous estimates of change during the twentieth century are based on empirical modelling and energy balance modelling. Consequently, no observation-based estimates of the contribution from the GIS to the global-mean sea level budget before 1990 are included in the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Here we calculate spatial ice mass loss around the entire GIS from 1900 to the present using aerial imagery from the 1980s. This allows accurate high-resolution mapping of geomorphic features related to the maximum extent of the GIS during the Little Ice Age at the end of the nineteenth century. We estimate the total ice mass loss and its spatial distribution for three periods: 1900-1983 (75.1 ± 29.4 gigatonnes per year), 1983-2003 (73.8 ± 40.5 gigatonnes per year), and 2003-2010 (186.4 ± 18.9 gigatonnes per year). Furthermore, using two surface mass balance models we partition the mass balance into a term for surface mass balance (that is, total precipitation minus total sublimation minus runoff) and a dynamic term. We find that many areas currently undergoing change are identical to those that experienced considerable thinning throughout the twentieth century. We also reveal that the surface mass balance term shows a considerable decrease since 2003, whereas the dynamic term is constant over the past 110 years. Overall, our observation-based findings show that during the twentieth century the GIS contributed at least 25.0 ± 9.4 millimetres of global-mean sea level rise. Our result will help to close the twentieth-century sea level budget, which remains crucial for evaluating the reliability of models used to predict global sea level rise.

KW - Cryospheric science

KW - Climate change

U2 - 10.1038/nature16183

DO - 10.1038/nature16183

M3 - Letter

C2 - 26672555

VL - 528

SP - 396

EP - 400

JO - Nature

JF - Nature

SN - 0028-0836

ER -