Surface mass balance and runoff modeling using HIRHAM4 RCM at Kangerlussuaq (Søndre Strømfjord), West Greenland, 1950-2080

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A regional atmospheric model, the HIRHAM4 regional climate model (RCM) using boundary conditions from the ECHAM5 atmosphere-ocean general circulation model (AOGCM), was downscaled to a 500-m gridcell increment using SnowModel to simulate 131 yr (1950-2080) of hydrologic cycle evolution in west Greenland's Kangerlussuaq drainage. Projected changes in the Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS) surface mass balance (SMB) and runoff are relevant for potential hydropower production and prediction of ecosystem changes in sensitive Kangerlussuaq Fjord systems. Mean annual surface air temperatures and precipitation in the Kangerlussuaq area were simulated to increase by 3.4°C and 95 mm water equivalent (w.eq.), respectively, between 1950 and 2080. The local Kangerlussuaq warming was less than the average warming of 4.8°C simulated for the entire GrIS. The Kangerlussuaq SMB loss increased by an average of 0.3 km3 because of a 0.4 km3 rise in precipitation, 0.1 km3 rise in evaporation and sublimation, and 0.6 km3 gain in runoff (1950-2080). By 2080, the spring runoff season begins approximately three weeks earlier. The average modeled SMB and runoff is approximately -0.1 and 1.2 km3 yr-1, respectively, indicating that ~10% of the Kangerlussuaq runoff is explained by the GrIS SMB net loss. The cumulative net volume loss (1950-2080) from SMB was 15.9 km3, and runoff was 151.2 km3 w.eq. This runoff volume is expected to have important hydrodynamic and ecological impacts on the stratified salinity in the Kangerlussuaq Fjord and on the transport of freshwater to the ocean.

TidsskriftJournal of Climate
Udgave nummer3
Sider (fra-til)609-623
Antal sider15
StatusUdgivet - 1 feb. 2011

ID: 186940481