Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2024-1108
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2024-1108
06 Jun 2024
 | 06 Jun 2024
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Bias in modeled Greenland ice sheet melt revealed by ASCAT

Anna Puggaard, Nicolaj Hansen, Ruth Mottram, Thomas Nagler, Stefan Scheiblauer, Sebastian B. Simonsen, Louise S. Sørensen, Jan Wuite, and Anne M. Solgaard

Abstract. The runoff of surface melt is the primary driver of mass loss over the Greenland Ice Sheet. An accurate representation of surface melt is crucial for understanding the surface mass balance and, ultimately, the ice sheet's total contribution to sea level rise. Regional climate models (RCMs) model ice-sheet-wide melt volume but exhibit large variability in estimates among models, requiring validation with observed melt. Here, we explore novel processing of data from the Advanced SCATterometer (ASCAT) instrument onboard the EUMETSAT Metop satellites, which provides estimates of the spatiotemporal variability of melt extent over the Greenland Ice Sheet. We apply these new maps to pinpoint differences in the melt products from three distinct RCMs, where one is forced at the boundary with two different reanalyses. Using automatic weather station (AWS) air temperature observations, we assess how well RCM-modeled melt volume aligns with in situ temperatures. With this assessment, we establish a threshold for the RCMs to identify how much meltwater is in the models before it is observed at the AWS and ultimately infer the melt extent in the RCMs. We show that applying thresholds, informed by in situ measurements, reduces the differences between ASCAT and RCMs and minimizes the discrepancies between different RCMs. Differences between modeled melt extent and melt extent observed by ASCAT are used to pinpoint (i) biases in the RCMs, which include variability in their albedo schemes, snowfall, turbulent heat fluxes, and temperature as well as differences in radiation schemes, and (ii) limitations of the melt detection by ASCAT, including misclassification in the ablation zone as well as a temporal melt onset bias. Overall we find the RCMs tend to have a later melt onset than ASCAT and an earlier end of melt season with a similar but slightly smaller melt area than identified in ASCAT. Biases, however, vary spatially between models and with compensating errors in different regions, suggesting that a dedicated RCM might represent the surface across the entire ice sheet more effectively than the ensemble mean.

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Anna Puggaard, Nicolaj Hansen, Ruth Mottram, Thomas Nagler, Stefan Scheiblauer, Sebastian B. Simonsen, Louise S. Sørensen, Jan Wuite, and Anne M. Solgaard

Status: open (until 18 Jul 2024)

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Anna Puggaard, Nicolaj Hansen, Ruth Mottram, Thomas Nagler, Stefan Scheiblauer, Sebastian B. Simonsen, Louise S. Sørensen, Jan Wuite, and Anne M. Solgaard
Anna Puggaard, Nicolaj Hansen, Ruth Mottram, Thomas Nagler, Stefan Scheiblauer, Sebastian B. Simonsen, Louise S. Sørensen, Jan Wuite, and Anne M. Solgaard

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Short summary
Regional climate models are currently the only source for assessing the melt volume on a global scale of the Greenland Ice Sheet. This study compares the modeled melt volume with observations from weather stations and melt extent observed from ASCAT to assess the performance of the models. It highlights the importance of critically evaluating model outputs with high-quality satellite measurements to improve the understanding of variability among models.