Field-calibrated model of melt, refreezing, and runoff for polar ice caps: Application to Devon Ice Cap

Richard M. Morris, Douglas W. F. Mair, Peter Nienow, Christina Bell, David O. Burgess, Andrew P. Wright

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Abstract

Understanding the controls on the amount of surface meltwater that refreezes, rather than becoming runoff, over polar ice masses is necessary for modeling their surface mass balance and ultimately for predicting their future contributions to global sea level change. We present amodified version of a physically based model that includes an energy balance routine and explicit calculation of near-surface meltwater refreezing capacity, to simulate the evolution of near-surface density and temperature profiles across Devon Ice Cap in Arctic Canada. Uniquely, our model is initiated and calibrated using high spatial resolution measurements of snow and firn densities across almost the entire elevation range of the ice cap for the summer of 2004 and subsequently validated with the same type of measurements obtained during the very different meteorological conditions of summer 2006. The model captures the spatial variability across the transect in bulk snowpack properties although it slightly underestimates the flow of meltwater into the firn of previous years. The percentage of meltwater that becomes runoff is similar in both years; however, the spatial pattern of this melt-runoff relationship is different in the 2 years. The model is found to be insensitive to variation in the depth of impermeable layers within the firn but is very sensitive to variation in air temperature, since the refreezing capacity of firn decreases with increasing temperature. We highlight that the sensitivity of the ice cap’s surface mass balance to air temperature is itself dependent on air temperature.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1995-2012
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface
Volume119
Issue number9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 29 Sep 2014

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ice cap
Ice
drainage
Runoff
caps
firn
snowmelt
runoff
ice
meltwater
melt
air temperature
mass balance
summer
air
Temperature
Air
temperature
Sea level
snowpack

Keywords

  • Arctic
  • refreezing
  • runoff
  • climate sensitvity
  • mass balance

Cite this

Field-calibrated model of melt, refreezing, and runoff for polar ice caps : Application to Devon Ice Cap. / Morris, Richard M.; Mair, Douglas W. F.; Nienow, Peter; Bell, Christina; Burgess, David O.; Wright, Andrew P.

In: Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface, Vol. 119, No. 9, 29.09.2014, p. 1995-2012.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Morris, Richard M. ; Mair, Douglas W. F. ; Nienow, Peter ; Bell, Christina ; Burgess, David O. ; Wright, Andrew P. / Field-calibrated model of melt, refreezing, and runoff for polar ice caps : Application to Devon Ice Cap. In: Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface. 2014 ; Vol. 119, No. 9. pp. 1995-2012.
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abstract = "Understanding the controls on the amount of surface meltwater that refreezes, rather than becoming runoff, over polar ice masses is necessary for modeling their surface mass balance and ultimately for predicting their future contributions to global sea level change. We present amodified version of a physically based model that includes an energy balance routine and explicit calculation of near-surface meltwater refreezing capacity, to simulate the evolution of near-surface density and temperature profiles across Devon Ice Cap in Arctic Canada. Uniquely, our model is initiated and calibrated using high spatial resolution measurements of snow and firn densities across almost the entire elevation range of the ice cap for the summer of 2004 and subsequently validated with the same type of measurements obtained during the very different meteorological conditions of summer 2006. The model captures the spatial variability across the transect in bulk snowpack properties although it slightly underestimates the flow of meltwater into the firn of previous years. The percentage of meltwater that becomes runoff is similar in both years; however, the spatial pattern of this melt-runoff relationship is different in the 2 years. The model is found to be insensitive to variation in the depth of impermeable layers within the firn but is very sensitive to variation in air temperature, since the refreezing capacity of firn decreases with increasing temperature. We highlight that the sensitivity of the ice cap’s surface mass balance to air temperature is itself dependent on air temperature.",
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author = "Morris, {Richard M.} and Mair, {Douglas W. F.} and Peter Nienow and Christina Bell and Burgess, {David O.} and Wright, {Andrew P.}",
note = "Acknowledgments R.M.M. was supported by the Scottish Alliance for Geoscience, Environment and Society (SAGES). The field data collection contributed to the validation of the European Space Agency Cryosat mission and was supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, Canada, the Meteorological Service of Canada (CRYSYS program), the Polar Continental Shelf Project (an agency of Natural Resources Canada), and by UK Natural Environment Research Council consortium grant NER/O/S/2003/00620. Support for D.O.B. was provided by the Canadian Circumpolar Institute and the Climate Change Geoscience Program, Earth Sciences Sector, Natural Resources Canada (ESS contribution 20130371). Thanks are also due to the Nunavut Research Institute and the communities of Resolute Bay and Grise Fjord for permission to conduct fieldwork on Devon Ice Cap. M.J. Sharp, A. Gardner, F. Cawkwell, R. Bingham, S. Williamson, L. Colgan, J. Davis, B. Danielson, J. Sekerka, L. Gray, and J. Zheng are thanked for logistical support and field assistance during the data collection. We thank Ruzica Dadic, two other anonymous reviewers, and the Editor, Bryn Hubbard, for their helpful comments on an earlier version of this paper and which resulted in significant improvements.",
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AU - Morris, Richard M.

AU - Mair, Douglas W. F.

AU - Nienow, Peter

AU - Bell, Christina

AU - Burgess, David O.

AU - Wright, Andrew P.

N1 - Acknowledgments R.M.M. was supported by the Scottish Alliance for Geoscience, Environment and Society (SAGES). The field data collection contributed to the validation of the European Space Agency Cryosat mission and was supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, Canada, the Meteorological Service of Canada (CRYSYS program), the Polar Continental Shelf Project (an agency of Natural Resources Canada), and by UK Natural Environment Research Council consortium grant NER/O/S/2003/00620. Support for D.O.B. was provided by the Canadian Circumpolar Institute and the Climate Change Geoscience Program, Earth Sciences Sector, Natural Resources Canada (ESS contribution 20130371). Thanks are also due to the Nunavut Research Institute and the communities of Resolute Bay and Grise Fjord for permission to conduct fieldwork on Devon Ice Cap. M.J. Sharp, A. Gardner, F. Cawkwell, R. Bingham, S. Williamson, L. Colgan, J. Davis, B. Danielson, J. Sekerka, L. Gray, and J. Zheng are thanked for logistical support and field assistance during the data collection. We thank Ruzica Dadic, two other anonymous reviewers, and the Editor, Bryn Hubbard, for their helpful comments on an earlier version of this paper and which resulted in significant improvements.

PY - 2014/9/29

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N2 - Understanding the controls on the amount of surface meltwater that refreezes, rather than becoming runoff, over polar ice masses is necessary for modeling their surface mass balance and ultimately for predicting their future contributions to global sea level change. We present amodified version of a physically based model that includes an energy balance routine and explicit calculation of near-surface meltwater refreezing capacity, to simulate the evolution of near-surface density and temperature profiles across Devon Ice Cap in Arctic Canada. Uniquely, our model is initiated and calibrated using high spatial resolution measurements of snow and firn densities across almost the entire elevation range of the ice cap for the summer of 2004 and subsequently validated with the same type of measurements obtained during the very different meteorological conditions of summer 2006. The model captures the spatial variability across the transect in bulk snowpack properties although it slightly underestimates the flow of meltwater into the firn of previous years. The percentage of meltwater that becomes runoff is similar in both years; however, the spatial pattern of this melt-runoff relationship is different in the 2 years. The model is found to be insensitive to variation in the depth of impermeable layers within the firn but is very sensitive to variation in air temperature, since the refreezing capacity of firn decreases with increasing temperature. We highlight that the sensitivity of the ice cap’s surface mass balance to air temperature is itself dependent on air temperature.

AB - Understanding the controls on the amount of surface meltwater that refreezes, rather than becoming runoff, over polar ice masses is necessary for modeling their surface mass balance and ultimately for predicting their future contributions to global sea level change. We present amodified version of a physically based model that includes an energy balance routine and explicit calculation of near-surface meltwater refreezing capacity, to simulate the evolution of near-surface density and temperature profiles across Devon Ice Cap in Arctic Canada. Uniquely, our model is initiated and calibrated using high spatial resolution measurements of snow and firn densities across almost the entire elevation range of the ice cap for the summer of 2004 and subsequently validated with the same type of measurements obtained during the very different meteorological conditions of summer 2006. The model captures the spatial variability across the transect in bulk snowpack properties although it slightly underestimates the flow of meltwater into the firn of previous years. The percentage of meltwater that becomes runoff is similar in both years; however, the spatial pattern of this melt-runoff relationship is different in the 2 years. The model is found to be insensitive to variation in the depth of impermeable layers within the firn but is very sensitive to variation in air temperature, since the refreezing capacity of firn decreases with increasing temperature. We highlight that the sensitivity of the ice cap’s surface mass balance to air temperature is itself dependent on air temperature.

KW - Arctic

KW - refreezing

KW - runoff

KW - climate sensitvity

KW - mass balance

U2 - 10.1002/2014JF003100

DO - 10.1002/2014JF003100

M3 - Article

VL - 119

SP - 1995

EP - 2012

JO - Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface

JF - Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface

SN - 2169-9003

IS - 9

ER -