Arctic Field Projects

Project Title: Collaborative Research: Assessing the Impact of Arctic Sea Ice Variability on the Greenland Ice Sheet Surface Mass and Energy Balance (Award# 1304807)

PI: Stroeve, Julienne (
Phone: (303) 492.3584 
Institute/Department: U of Colorado, Boulder, Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences 
IPY Project?
Funding Agency: US\Federal\NSF\GEO\OPP\ARC\ANS
Program Manager: Dr. Marc Stieglitz ( )
Discipline(s): | Meteorology and Climate |

Project Web Site(s):

Science Summary:
The Arctic Ocean is rapidly losing its summer sea ice cover, leading to anomalous warming of the overlying atmosphere in autumn. Concurrent with this sea ice loss, the Greenland ice sheet has been losing mass recently, with increased surface melt and discharge rates. These changes are of great socioeconomic concern as continued negative trends in the extent of floating sea ice cover and ice sheet mass are likely to have widespread impacts on climate and global sea levels. The investigators think that the simultaneous decreases in sea ice cover and increased melting of the Greenland ice sheet are connected. On the one hand, both may be largely responding to the same forcing to some degree, such as a generalized warming signal, amplified over the Arctic. On the other hand, it can be hypothesized that sea ice variability, through influences on mixed ocean layer temperatures, overlying air temperatures, column water vapor and atmospheric circulation, influences Greenland ice sheet surface melt and accumulation. Through a combination of data analysis, process studies and modeling, this project seeks to define the interactions between sea ice loss and Greenland ice sheet melt and accumulation. The following major research questions provide a framework for the study: 1) Does sea ice variability influence Greenland ice sheet surface melt (where, when, and how)? 2) What is the nature of storm activity around Greenland in the context of ice and ocean conditions and how might changes in the marine environment influence Greenland surface melt and accumulation in the future? This investigation will take advantage of up-to-date satellite sensor data, in combination with several new atmospheric reanalysis data products, station data and a state-of-the-art regional climate model, performed by a research team who are specialists in regional climate modeling, analysis of geospatial and sequential data analysis, satellite remote sensing and hydroclimatology in the Arctic and Greenland. This project will support students at the University of Colorado, the City College of New York and Rutgers University. The project also includes efforts to recruit undergraduates from underrepresented groups and will support a New Jersey high school teacher to develop lecture plans to be disseminated to a wide audience of K-12 educators at conferences and in journals. PUBLICATIONS PRODUCED AS A RESULT OF THIS RESEARCH M. Tedesco1,2, T. Mote3, X. Fettweis4, E. Hanna5, J. Jeyaratnam6, J.F. Booth6, R. Datta1,6,7 & K. Briggs8. "Arctic cut-off high drives the poleward shift of a new Greenland melting record," Nature Communications, v.7, 2016. doi:10.1038/ncomms11723

Logistics Summary:
Through a combination of data analysis, process studies and modeling, this collaborative project between Stroeve (1304807, Lead, CU), Rennermalm (1304805, Rutgers) and Tedesco (1643187, Columbia University) would seek to define the interactions between sea ice loss and Greenland ice sheet melt and accumulation. This project would improve understanding of potential linkages between sea ice and GrIS SEB and SMB processes, including large-scale atmospheric impacts, impacts on the flow of energy from the ocean to the GrIS, changes in storm track frequency and precipitation, and local statistical relationships. Modeling experiments would address cause-and-effect relationships, which would be compared against those obtained from the observational data. These modeling experiments would consist of sensitivity studies, in which surface boundary conditions (sea ice and SST) are altered, but atmospheric forcing is kept the same. The sensitivity studies would reveal the direct impact of sea ice on GrIS surface processes. In addition, adjustments to the size of the MAR domain will reveal the relative importance of large scale vs. local sea ice forcing on parameters associated with the GrIS SMB, complementing the parallel studies performed with observational data. Because MAR can provide detailed results for fluxes that are difficult to measure at a high spatial and temporal resolution, it will complement observational studies. No fieldwork would be conducted.

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