Blog Archive

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Michiel van den Broeke et al., Science 326, Partitioning Recent Greenland Mass Loss

Science (13 November 2009): Vol. 326, No. 5955, pp. 984-986; DOI: 10.1126/science.1178176


Partitioning Recent Greenland Mass Loss

Michiel van den Broeke,1,* Jonathan Bamber,2 Janneke Ettema,1 Eric Rignot,3,4 Ernst Schrama,5 Willem Jan van de Berg,1 Erik van Meijgaard,6 Isabella Velicogna,3,4 and Bert Wouters5,6


Mass budget calculations, validated with satellite gravity observations [from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites], enable us to quantify the individual components of recent Greenland mass loss. The total 2000–2008 mass loss of ~1500 gigatons, equivalent to 0.46 mm per year of global sea level rise, is equally split between surface processes (runoff and precipitation) and ice dynamics. Without the moderating effects of increased snowfall and refreezing, post-1996 Greenland ice sheet mass losses would have been 100% higher. Since 2006, high summer melt rates have increased Greenland ice sheet mass loss to 273 gigatons per year (0.75 mm per year of equivalent sea level rise). The seasonal cycle in surface mass balance fully accounts for detrended GRACE mass variations, confirming insignificant subannual variation in ice sheet discharge.

1 Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research, Utrecht University, Netherlands
2 Bristol Glaciology Centre, School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol, U.K.
3 Department of Earth System Science, University of California, Irvine, CA, U.S.A.
4 Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, U.S.A.
5 Delft Institute of Earth Observation and Space Systems, Delft University of Technology, Delft, Netherlands
6 Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute, De Bilt, Netherlands

*Correspondence e-mail:

Link to abstract:;326/5955/984

No comments: