C. Lique, H. L. Johnson, Y. Plancherel and R. Flanders, Climate Dynamics, submitted.
The impact of climate warming on the ocean near Greenland is investigated with a high resolution coupled global climate model. In response to a four times increase of atmospheric CO2 levels, the ocean around Greenland exhibits a strong warming, intensified in the intermediate layer and regionally maximum in the Greenland Sea. The projected changes in temperature are driven by changes affecting the large scale ocean circulation rather than changes of the local atmospheric heat forcing. The ocean conditions examined here provide a background for the water masses in contact with the outlet glaciers around the Greenland coast. The future warming of the subsurface layer could thus lead to enhanced ice sheet melting, although the signal could be mitigated by other effects, including the freshening of the surface layer and the resulting enhanced stratification. Applying a parameterization to estimate the change in melting rate along the Greenland coast, we find that ice sheet melting increases everywhere in response to the change in water mass properties, although the melting rate changes show large variations in space. The largest melting acceleration is found between Fram Strait and Denmark Strait, where only moderate melting has been observed up to now, suggesting that the Greenland Ice Sheet mass balance should be monitored everywhere and not only where melting occurs at the moment.
This manuscript is available upon request.