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Volume 12, issue 9 | Copyright
The Cryosphere, 12, 2901-2922, 2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 10 Sep 2018

Research article | 10 Sep 2018

Melting over the northeast Antarctic Peninsula (1999–2009): evaluation of a high-resolution regional climate model

Rajashree Tri Datta1, Marco Tedesco2, Cecile Agosta3, Xavier Fettweis3, Peter Kuipers Munneke4, and Michiel R. van den Broeke4 Rajashree Tri Datta et al.
  • 1The Graduate Center, City University of New York, New York, NY 10016, USA
  • 2Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, Palisades, New York, NY 10964, USA
  • 3Department of Geography, Université de Liège, Liège, Belgium
  • 4Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research, Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands

Abstract. Surface melting over the Antarctic Peninsula (AP) may impact the stability of ice shelves and thus the rate at which grounded ice is discharged into the ocean. Energy and mass balance models are needed to understand how climatic change and atmospheric circulation variability drive current and future melting. In this study, we evaluate the regional climate model MAR over the AP at a 10km spatial resolution between 1999 and 2009, a period when active microwave data from the QuikSCAT mission is available. This model has been validated extensively over Greenland, has is applied here to the AP at a high resolution and for a relatively long time period (full outputs are available to 2014). We find that melting in the northeastern AP, the focus area of this study, can be initiated both by sporadic westerly föhn flow over the AP mountains and by northerly winds advecting warm air from lower latitudes. A comparison of MAR with satellite and automatic weather station (AWS) data reveals that satellite estimates show greater melt frequency, a larger melt extent, and a quicker expansion to peak melt extent than MAR in the centre and east of the Larsen C ice shelf. These differences are reduced in the north and west of the ice shelf, where the comparison with satellite data suggests that MAR is accurately capturing melt produced by warm westerly winds. MAR shows an overall warm bias and a cool bias at temperatures above 0°C as well as fewer warm, strong westerly winds than reported by AWS stations located on the eastern edge of the Larsen C ice shelf, suggesting that the underestimation of melt in this region may be the product of limited eastward flow. At higher resolutions (5km), MAR shows a further increase in wind biases and a decrease in meltwater production. We conclude that non-hydrostatic models at spatial resolutions better than 5km are needed to better-resolve the effects of föhn winds on the eastern edges of the Larsen C ice shelf.

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Short summary
Surface melting on the East Antarctic Peninsula (East AP) has been linked to ice shelf collapse, including the Larsen A (1995) and Larsen B (2002) ice shelves. Regional climate models (RCMs) are a valuable tool to understand how wind patterns and general warming can impact the stability of ice shelves through surface melt. Here, we evaluate one such RCM (Modèle Atmosphérique Régionale) over the East AP, including the remaining Larsen C ice shelf, by comparing it to satellite and ground data.
Surface melting on the East Antarctic Peninsula (East AP) has been linked to ice shelf collapse,...