Journal cover Journal topic
Climate of the Past An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Research article
08 Nov 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Climate of the Past (CP).
The sensitivity of the Greenland ice sheet to glacial-interglacial oceanic forcing
Ilaria Tabone1,2, Javier Blasco1,2, Alexander Robinson1,2,a, Jorge Alvarez-Solas1,2, and Marisa Montoya1,2 1Universidad Complutense de Madrid, 28040 Madrid, Spain
2Instituto de Geociencias, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas-Universidad Complutense de Madrid, 28040 Madrid, Spain
anow at: Faculty of Geology and Geoenvironment, University of Athens, 15784 Athens, Greece
Abstract. Observations suggest that during the last decades the Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS) has experienced a gradually accelerating mass loss, in part due to the observed acceleration of several of Greenland’s marine-terminating glaciers. Recent studies directly attribute this to increasing North Atlantic temperatures, which have triggered melting of the GrIS outlet glaciers, grounding-line retreat and enhanced ice discharge into the ocean, contributing to an acceleration of sea level rise. Reconstructions suggest that the influence of the ocean has been of primary importance in the past as well. This was the case not only in interglacial periods, when warmer climates led to a rapid retreat of the GrIS to land above sea level, but also in glacial periods, when the GrIS expanded as far as the continental shelf break, and was thus more directly exposed to ocean changes. However, the GrIS response to paleo oceanic variations has not been investigated from a modelling perspective so far. In this work the evolution of the GrIS over the past two glacial cycles has been studied using a three-dimensional hybrid ice-sheet/ice-shelf model. We assess the effect of the variation of oceanic temperatures on the GrIS evolution on glacial-interglacial timescales through changes in submarine melting. The results show a very high sensitivity of the GrIS to the changing oceanic conditions. Oceanic forcing is found to be the dominant driver of the GrIS expansion in glacial times and retreat in interglacial periods. If switched off, paleo atmospheric variations alone are not able to yield a reliable glacial configuration of the GrIS. This work therefore suggests that considering the ocean as an active forcing should become standard in paleo ice sheet modelling.

Citation: Tabone, I., Blasco, J., Robinson, A., Alvarez-Solas, J., and Montoya, M.: The sensitivity of the Greenland ice sheet to glacial-interglacial oceanic forcing, Clim. Past Discuss.,, in review, 2017.
Ilaria Tabone et al.
Ilaria Tabone et al.
Ilaria Tabone et al.


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