Reference : What Darkens the Greenland Ice Sheet?
Scientific journals : Article
Physical, chemical, mathematical & earth Sciences : Earth sciences & physical geography
What Darkens the Greenland Ice Sheet?
Tedesco, M [> >]
Doherty, S. [> >]
Warren, S. [> >]
Tranter, M. [> >]
Stroeve, J. [> >]
Fettweis, Xavier mailto [Université de Liège > Département de géographie > Climatologie et Topoclimatologie >]
Alexander, P. [> >]
American Geophysical Union
Yes (verified by ORBi)
[en] Most of the massive ice sheet that covers roughly four fifths of Greenland melts at the surface in summer. As long as the ice sheet regains its mass in the winter, this is not catastrophic. However, if the ice sheet melted entirely, sea levels would rise by more than 7 meters, with obvious and severe consequences for human civilization.

Not surprisingly, scientists are working hard to determine if and when the ice sheet will transition (or if it has already transitioned) from a stable state to a net mass loss state. The impact of increasing greenhouse gas levels on the Greenland ice sheet (GrIS) depends on many complex and interacting factors.

One is the ice sheet’s albedo—the fraction of incoming solar radiation that is reflected from the surface of the ice sheet. Indeed, scientists have determined that net solar radiation reaching the ice is the largest contributor to the energy balance driving melting [e.g., van den Broeke et al., 2011]. Despite the crucial role of albedo in energy balance, we have yet to quantify the role of the different processes driving it. Such an understanding is crucial to determining the past behavior of the GrIS and projecting its future contribution to sea level rise.

Scientists seeking to quantify how much various factors contribute to ice sheet albedo face numerous challenges. These include intrinsic limitations in current observational capabilities (e.g., spatial and radiometric resolution of currently available spaceborne sensors) and limitations on how accurately surface energy balance models handle ice sheet albedo. Moreover, the sparseness in space and time of in situ observations of quantities such as impurity concentrations, biological processes, and grain growth impedes our ability to separate their respective contributions to broadband albedo (integrated over the entire spectrum).
Researchers ; Students ; General public

File(s) associated to this reference

Fulltext file(s):

Open access
What Darkens the Greenland Ice Sheet_ - Eos.pdfPublisher postprint390.71 kBView/Open

Bookmark and Share SFX Query

All documents in ORBi are protected by a user license.