Ice Sheets Greenland

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Observations from space provide unique information about the climate system and climate change. It is increasingly clear that the observations are critical, and a coordinated effort is needed to ensure that long and reliable records are available and preserved. To address this need, the European Space Agency (ESA) has initiated the Climate Change Initiative to improve data products related to climate from long-term monitoring from space and to make these products available for all. The Global Climate Observation System (GCOS) has identified a list of Essential Climate Variables (ECVs), essential factors in the climate system. The ESA Climate Change Initiative (CCI) program has initiated programs devoted to these ECVs, 2 one of which are ice sheets from Phase 2 per April 2015; Greenland_Ice_Sheet_cci and Antarctic_Ice_Sheet_cci.

The state of the ice sheets is thought to be a major factor determining the pace of sea-level change. The goal of the Greenland_Ice_Sheet_cci project is to set up a longterm and reliable production of a set of key parameters from ice sheets derived from available and future satellite observations. The selected key parameters are:

  • Surface Elevation Change (SEC);
  • Ice Velocity (IV);
  • Grounding Line Location (GLL);
  • Calving Front Location (CFL).
  • Gravity Mass Balance (GMB) - new parameter per Phase 2.

The project focuses on the Greenland ice sheet including its outlet glaciers. Similar methods are implemented for the Antarctic Ice Shelf.

Ice Sheets Greenland products & equivalent CMIP5/Obs4MIPs Parameters

The table below shows the Ice Sheets outputs that have equivalent CMIP5 parameters and hence are suitable for submission to Obs4MIPs (Observations for Model Intercomparisons), an activity to make observational products more accessible for climate model intercomparisons.

CMIP5 Table CMIP5 Matching Parameter : CMIP5 Name CMIP5 Priority
Surface Elevation Change OImon Sea Ice Thickness : sit 1
Ice Velocity OImon X/Y Component of Sea Ice Velocity : usi/vsi 1
Gravimetric Mass Balance OImon Sea Ice Plus Surface Snow Amount : sim 1
Grounding Line Location - - -

Summary of current/planned capabilities and requirements for ice sheet parameters

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