Publications of Xavier Fettweis
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See detailEstimation of the 1900-2100 Greenland ice sheet surface mass balance
Fettweis, Xavier ULiege

Conference (2008, April 15)

Results from a 37-year simulation (1970-2006) over the Greenland ice sheet (GrIS) with the regional climate model MAR reveals that more than 97% of the interannual variability of the modelled Surface Mass ... [more ▼]

Results from a 37-year simulation (1970-2006) over the Greenland ice sheet (GrIS) with the regional climate model MAR reveals that more than 97% of the interannual variability of the modelled Surface Mass Balance (SMB) is explained by the GrIS summer temperature anomaly and the GrIS annual precipitation anomaly. This dependence is also fully confirmed by another model using the ECMWF (re)analysis. This multiple regression is then used to empirically estimate the GrIS SMB since 1900 from climatological time series and reanalysises. The projected SMB changes in the 21st century are investigated with the set of simulations performed with AOGCM's for the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report. These estimations show that the high surface mass loss rates of these last years (1998, 2003, 2006) are not unprecedented in the GrIS history of the last hundred years. The minimum SMB rate seems to be occurred in the 1930's due to a combination of dryer and warmer years than now although the effect of the man-induced global warming was not perceptible at that time. The AOGCM's project that the SMB rate of the 1930s would be common at the end of this century. The temperature would be higher than in the 1930s but the increase of accumulation would partly offset the acceleration of surface melt due to the temperature increase. If no change will occur in the iceberg discharge rate, such negative SMB rates would be not large enough to significantly increase in the future the fresh meltwater flux from the GrIS into the ocean. However, these assumptions are based on an empirical multiple regression only currently validated and the accuracy and time homogeneity of the data sets and AOGCM results used in these estimations constitute a large uncertainty. [less ▲]

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See detailImpacts of ice sheet mask and resolution on estimating the surface mass balance of the Greenland ice sheet
Fettweis, Xavier ULiege

Poster (2008, April 15)

The impacts of the spatial resolution and a Greenland ice sheet (GrIS) mask on modelling the Surface Mass Balance (SMB) are studied with the regional climate model MAR coupled with a complex energy ... [more ▼]

The impacts of the spatial resolution and a Greenland ice sheet (GrIS) mask on modelling the Surface Mass Balance (SMB) are studied with the regional climate model MAR coupled with a complex energy balance/snowpack model. On the one hand, too coarse resolution prevents the model from resolving adequately the steep ice sheet margin and the ablation zone, not wider than 100 km in Greenland, where substantial seasonal melting occurs. The resolution affects also the precipitation modelling. On the other hand, a too large ice sheet mask (i.e. with low-altitude ice pixels in the model, where there is no ice in reality) leads to an overestimation of the run-off. In addition, due to the albedo feedback, biases in the ice sheet mask have also consequences on the surface energy balance. [less ▲]

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See detailIs the Greenland ice sheet beginning to melt?
Gallée, Hubert; Fettweis, Xavier ULiege

in La Lettre « Changement Global » PIGB - PMRC France (2008), 21

Using a new evaluation of satellite data, and simula- tions carried out with a regional climate model, it has been shown that the acceleration of surface melting of the Greenland ice sheet during the 1979 ... [more ▼]

Using a new evaluation of satellite data, and simula- tions carried out with a regional climate model, it has been shown that the acceleration of surface melting of the Greenland ice sheet during the 1979-2005 period was twice as rapid as earlier studies had estimated. Between 1979 and 2005, the area of Greenland affected by melt at least one day per year in fact increased by 42%, and the average summer tempera- ture rose by 2.4°C. [less ▲]

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See detailAutomatic 1958-2007 daily weather pattern classification applied to an analysis of climatic conditions of wildfires in eastern Belgium
Erpicum, Michel ULiege; Fettweis, Xavier ULiege; Mabille, Georges ULiege et al

Poster (2008, April)

The daily atmospheric circulation patterns classification is founded on a 100 km regular grid centred on Belgium. The geopotential heights of 500, 850 and 1000 hPa levels were extracted <br />from the ERA ... [more ▼]

The daily atmospheric circulation patterns classification is founded on a 100 km regular grid centred on Belgium. The geopotential heights of 500, 850 and 1000 hPa levels were extracted <br />from the ERA-40 database on the period 1958-2002 and from ECMWF operational analysis until the end of year 2007. The classification was based on a similarity index calculated on the orientation of exaggerated slopes of different daily geopotential fields. Wildfire occurrences were analyzed in April and September (which are the two months with the most frequent wildfire-days in Belgium) together with monthly frequencies and persistences of daily atmospheric circulation pattern classes as well as with yearly variability of weather climate conditions. [less ▲]

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See detailLast century Greenland ice sheet surface mass balance projections from IPCC AR4 global models
Franco, Bruno ULiege; Fettweis, Xavier ULiege; Erpicum, Michel ULiege

Poster (2008, April)

Results from atmosphere-ocean general circulation models (AOGCM's) for the IPCC 4th Assessment Report are used to investigate surface mass balance (SMB) future projections of the Greenland ice sheet (GrIS ... [more ▼]

Results from atmosphere-ocean general circulation models (AOGCM's) for the IPCC 4th Assessment Report are used to investigate surface mass balance (SMB) future projections of the Greenland ice sheet (GrIS). The most efficient models for the GrIS climate modeling are chosen by comparison between the 1970-1999 outputs (averages and trends) from the 20C3M Experiment outputs, and the reanalyses (ECMWF, NCEP) as well as climatologies. The SMB is estimated from the summer temperature (from which is deduced the run-off) and annual snowfall from the well-adapted AOGCM's. It is validated with 1970-1999 results from the regional climate model MAR by interpolating the AOGCM's outputs on the MAR grid. However, large uncertainties remain in these SMB projections due to the simplified physic and coarse AOGCM's resolution. High resolution simulations made with the MAR model (which simulates explicitly the SMB by taking into account the surface feedbacks) forced at its boundaries by a GrIS well-adapted AOGCM could bring more precise brief replies. [less ▲]

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See detailEstimation of the 1900-2100 Greenland ice sheet surface mass balance
Fettweis, Xavier ULiege; Hanna, E.; Gallée, H. et al

Conference (2008, April)

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See detailCirculations atmosphériques et anomalies de fonte à la surface de la calotte glaciaire du Groenland
Fettweis, Xavier ULiege; Mabille, Georges ULiege; Erpicum, Michel ULiege

in Bulletin de la Société Géographique de Liège (2008), 51

With the aim to study the impact of the 500hPa general circulation on the Greenland ice sheet surface melt simulated by the regional climate model MAR, we developed a new Circulation Type Classification ... [more ▼]

With the aim to study the impact of the 500hPa general circulation on the Greenland ice sheet surface melt simulated by the regional climate model MAR, we developed a new Circulation Type Classification (CTC) based on the 500hPa geopotential height from the ECMWF (re)analysis over the period 1958-2007. This CTC shows that the dominant mode of the regional atmospheric variability around the Greenland is linked to the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and that the surface anomalies are highly correlated to the general circulation. It explains also why a record surface melt was observed during the summer 2007. The 27th August of 2003, where the temperature was 10°C higher than the normal, is the consequence of an almost unique 500 hPa circulation in the 50 last years. [less ▲]

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See detailDiagnosing the extreme surface melt event over southwestern Greenland in 2007
Tedesco, Marco; Serreze, Marc; Fettweis, Xavier ULiege

in Cryosphere (2008), 2

Analysis of passive microwave brightness temperatures from the space-borne Special Sensor Microwave Imager (SSM/I) documents a record surface snowmelt over high elevations (above 2000 m) of the Greenland ... [more ▼]

Analysis of passive microwave brightness temperatures from the space-borne Special Sensor Microwave Imager (SSM/I) documents a record surface snowmelt over high elevations (above 2000 m) of the Greenland ice sheet during summer of 2007. To interpret this record, results from the SSM/I are examined in conjunction with fields from the National Centers for Environmental Prediction/National Center for Atmospheric Research reanalysis and output from a regional climate model. The record surface melt reflects unusually warm conditions, seen in positive summertime anomalies of surface air temperatures, downwelling longwave radiation, 1000–500 hPa atmospheric thickness, and the net surface energy flux, linked in turn to southerly airflow over the ice sheet. Low snow accumulation may have contributed to the record through promoting anomalously low surface albedo. [less ▲]

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See detailEstimation of the Greenland ice sheet surface mass balance for the 20th and 21st centuries
Fettweis, Xavier ULiege; Hanna, Edward; Gallée, Hubert et al

in Cryosphere (2008), 2

Results from a regional climate simulation (1970–2006) over the Greenland ice sheet (GrIS) reveals that more than 97% of the interannual variability of the modelled Surface Mass Balance (SMB) can be ... [more ▼]

Results from a regional climate simulation (1970–2006) over the Greenland ice sheet (GrIS) reveals that more than 97% of the interannual variability of the modelled Surface Mass Balance (SMB) can be explained by the GrIS summer temperature anomaly and the GrIS annual precipitation anomaly. This multiple regression is then used to empirically estimate the GrIS SMB since 1900 from climatological time series. The projected SMB changes in the 21st century are investigated with the set of simulations performed with atmosphere-ocean general circulation models (AOGCMs) of the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC AR4). These estimates show that the high surface mass loss rates of recent years are not unprecedented in the GrIS history of the last hundred years. The minimum SMB rate seems to have occurred earlier in the 1930s and corresponds to a zero SMB rate. The AOGCMs project that the SMB rate of the 1930s would be common at the end of 2100. The temperature would be higher than in the 1930s but the increase of accumulation in the 21st century would partly offset the acceleration of surface melt due to the temperature increase. However, these assumptions are based on an empirical multiple regression only validated for recent/current climatic conditions, and the accuracy and time homogeneity of the data sets and AOGCM results used in these estimations constitute a large uncertainty. [less ▲]

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See detailReconstruction of the 1979-2005 Greenland ice sheet surface mass balance using satellite data and the regional climate model MAR
Fettweis, Xavier ULiege

Conference (2007, April 17)

In order to improve our knowledge on the current state and variability of the Greenland ice sheet surface mass balance (SMB), a 27-year simulation (1979-2005) has been performed with the coupled ... [more ▼]

In order to improve our knowledge on the current state and variability of the Greenland ice sheet surface mass balance (SMB), a 27-year simulation (1979-2005) has been performed with the coupled atmosphere-snow regional model MAR. This simulation reveals an increase in the main factors of the SMB which are, on the one hand, the snowfall (+ 1.0 ± 1.5 km^3 yr^-2, not significant) in winter and on the other hand, the run-off of the melt water (+ 5.3 ± 3.0 km^3 yr^-2, significant) in summer. The net effect of these two competing factors leads to a SMB loss rate of – 4.1 ± 4.1 km^3 yr^-2, which has a significance of 95%. The melt extent derived from the passive microwave satellite data since 1979 also shows the acceleration of the surface melt. The contribution of changes in the net water vapour fluxes to the SMB variability is negligible. The melt water supply has increased because the Greenland ice sheet has been warming up by + 0.08 ± 0.04 °C yr^-1 since 1979. Latent heat flux, sensible heat flux and net solar radiation have not varied significantly over the last three decades. However, the simulated summer downward infra-red flux has increased by 7.1 W m^-2 since 1979. The natural climate variability (e.g. the North Atlantic Oscillation) does not fully explain these changes on the Greenland ice sheet. These changes result very likely from the global warming induced by human activities. The increase of +137 km^3 in the melt water run-off in the period 1979-2005 suggests that the overall ice sheet mass balance has been increasingly negative, given the observed melt-induced outlet glacier acceleration. [less ▲]

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See detailThe 1979-2005 Greenland ice sheet melt extent from passive microwave data using an improved version of the melt retrieval XPGR algorithm
Fettweis, Xavier ULiege

Poster (2007, April 16)

Analysis of passive microwave satellite observations over the Greenland ice sheet reveals a significant increase in surface melt over the period 1979-2005. Since 1979, the total melt area was found to ... [more ▼]

Analysis of passive microwave satellite observations over the Greenland ice sheet reveals a significant increase in surface melt over the period 1979-2005. Since 1979, the total melt area was found to have increased +1.22 x 10ˆ7 kmˆ2. An improved version of the cross-polarized gradient ratio (XPGR) technique is used to identify the melt from the brightness temperatures. The improvements in the melt retrieval XPGR algorithm as well as the surface melt acceleration are discussed with results from a coupled atmosphere-snow regional climate model. From 1979 to 2005, the ablation period increases everywhere over the melt zone except in the regions where the model simulates an increased summer snowfall. Indeed, more snowfall in summer decreases the liquid water content of the snowpack, raises the albedo and therefore reduces the melt. Finally, this melt acceleration over the Greenland ice sheet is highly correlated with both Greenland and global warming suggesting a continuing surface melt increase in the future. [less ▲]

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See detailThe 1979–2005 Greenland ice sheet melt extent from passive microwave data using an improved version of the melt retrieval XPGR algorithm
Fettweis, Xavier ULiege; van Ypersele, Jean-Pascal; Gallée, Hubert et al

in Geophysical Research Letters (2007)

Analysis of passive microwave satellite observations over the Greenland ice sheet reveals a significant increase in surface melt over the period 1979–2005. Since 1979, the total melt area was found to ... [more ▼]

Analysis of passive microwave satellite observations over the Greenland ice sheet reveals a significant increase in surface melt over the period 1979–2005. Since 1979, the total melt area was found to have increased by +1.22 × 107 km2. An improved version of the cross-polarized gradient ratio (XPGR) technique is used to identify the melt from the brightness temperatures. The improvements in the melt retrieval XPGR algorithm as well as the surface melt acceleration are discussed with results from a coupled atmosphere-snow regional climate model. From 1979 to 2005, the ablation period has been increasing everywhere over the melt zone except in the regions where the model simulates an increased summer snowfall. Indeed, more snowfall in summer decreases the liquid water content of the snowpack, raises the albedo and therefore reduces the melt. Finally, the observed melt acceleration over the Greenland ice sheet is highly correlated with both Greenland and global warming suggesting a continuing surface melt increase in the future. [less ▲]

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See detailReconstruction of the 1979–2006 Greenland ice sheet surface mass balance using the regional climate model MAR
Fettweis, Xavier ULiege

in Cryosphere (2007), 1

Results from a 28-year simulation (1979–2006) over the Greenland ice sheet (GrIS) reveal an increase of solid precipitation (+0.4±2.5 km3 yr−2) and run-off (+7.9±3.3 km3 yr−2) of surface meltwater. The ... [more ▼]

Results from a 28-year simulation (1979–2006) over the Greenland ice sheet (GrIS) reveal an increase of solid precipitation (+0.4±2.5 km3 yr−2) and run-off (+7.9±3.3 km3 yr−2) of surface meltwater. The net effect of these competing factors is a significant Surface Mass Balance (SMB) loss of −7.2±5.1 km3 yr−2. The contribution of changes in the net water vapour flux (+0.02±0.09 km3 yr−2) and rainfall (+0.2±0.2 km3 yr−2) to the SMB variability is negligible. The meltwater supply has increased because the GrIS surface has been warming up +2.4°C since 1979. Sensible heat flux, latent heat flux and net solar radiation have not varied significantly over the last three decades. However, the simulated downward infrared flux has increased by 9.3 W m−2 since 1979. The natural climate variability (e.g. the North Atlantic Oscillation) does not explain these changes. The recent global warming, due to the greenhouse gas concentration increase induced by human activities, could be a cause of these changes. The doubling of surface meltwater flux into the ocean over the period 1979–2006 suggests that the overall ice sheet mass balance has been increasingly negative, given the likely meltwater-induced acceleration of outlet glaciers. This study suggests that increased melting overshadows over an increased accumulation in a warming scenario and that the GrIS is likely to keep losing mass in the future. An enduring GrIS melting will probably affect in the future an certain effect on the stability of the thermohaline circulation and the global sea level rise. [less ▲]

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See detailReconstruction of the 1979-2005 Greenland ice sheet surface mass balance using satellite data and the regional climate model MAR
Fettweis, Xavier ULiege

Doctoral thesis (2006)

In order to improve our knowledge on the current state and variability of the Greenland ice sheet surface mass balance (SMB), a 27-year simulation (1979-2005) has been performed with the coupled ... [more ▼]

In order to improve our knowledge on the current state and variability of the Greenland ice sheet surface mass balance (SMB), a 27-year simulation (1979-2005) has been performed with the coupled atmosphere-snow regional model MAR. This simulation reveals an increase in the main factors of the SMB which are, on the one hand, the snowfall (+ 1.6 ± 1.8 km3 yr-1) in winter and on the other hand, the run-off (+ 4.2 ± 1.9 km3 yr-1) in summer. The net effect of these two competing factors leads to a SMB loss rate of – 2.7 ± 3.0 km3 yr-1, which has a significance of 87%. The melt extent derived from the passive microwave satellite data since 1979 also shows this trend. The melt water supply has increased because the Greenland ice sheet has been warming up by + 0.09 ± 0.04 °C yr-1 since 1979. This warming comes from a uniform increase of downward infra-red radiation which can not be explained by the natural variability. These changes result very likely from the global warming induced by human activities. As a result, it seems that: i) increased melting dominates over increased accumulation in a warming scenario, ii) the Greenland ice sheet has been significantly losing mass since the beginning of the 1980's by an increasing melt water run-off as well as by a probable increase of iceberg discharge into the ocean due to the "Zwally effect" (the melt water-induced ice sheet flow acceleration) and iii) the Greenland ice sheet is projected to continue to lose mass in the future. The Greenland ice sheet melting could have an effect on the stability of the thermohaline circulation (THC) and the global sea level rise. On the one hand, increases in the freshwater flux from the Greenland ice sheet (glacier discharge and run-off) could perturb the THC by reducing the density contrast driving it. On the other hand, the melting of the whole Greenland ice sheet would account for a global mean sea level rise of 7.4 m. [less ▲]

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See detailThe 1988-2003 Greenland ice sheet melt extent by passive microwave satellite data and a regional climate model
Fettweis, Xavier ULiege; Gallée, Hubert; Lefebre, Filip et al

in Climate Dynamics (2006), 27(5), 531-541

Measurements from ETH-Camp and JAR1 AWS (West Greenland) as well as coupled atmosphere-snow regional climate simulations have highlighted flaws in the cross-polarized gradient ratio (XPGR) technique used ... [more ▼]

Measurements from ETH-Camp and JAR1 AWS (West Greenland) as well as coupled atmosphere-snow regional climate simulations have highlighted flaws in the cross-polarized gradient ratio (XPGR) technique used to identify melt from passive microwave satellite data. It was found that dense clouds (causing notably rainfall) on the ice sheet severely perturb the XPGR melt signal. Therefore, the original XPGR melt detection algorithm has been adapted to better incorporate atmospheric variability over the ice sheet and an updated melt trend for the 1988–2003 period has been calculated. Compared to the original algorithm, the melt zone area increase is eight times higher (from 0.2 to 1.7% year−1). The increase is higher with the improved XPGR technique because rainfall also increased during this period. It is correlated to higher atmospheric temperatures. Finally, the model shows that the total ice sheet runoff is directly proportional to the melt extent surface detected by satellites. These results are important for the understanding of the effect of Greenland melting on the stability of the thermohaline circulation. [less ▲]

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See detailEvaluation of a high-resolution regional climate simulation over Greenland
Lefebre, Filip; Fettweis, Xavier ULiege; Gallée, Hubert et al

in Climate Dynamics (2005), 25(1), 99-116

A simulation of the 1991 summer has been performed over south Greenland with a coupled atmosphere–snow regional climate model (RCM) forced by the ECMWF re-analysis. The simulation is evaluated with in ... [more ▼]

A simulation of the 1991 summer has been performed over south Greenland with a coupled atmosphere–snow regional climate model (RCM) forced by the ECMWF re-analysis. The simulation is evaluated with in-situ coastal and ice-sheet atmospheric and glaciological observations. Modelled air temperature, specific humidity, wind speed and radiative fluxes are in good agreement with the available observations, although uncertainties in the radiative transfer scheme need further investigation to improve the model’s performance. In the sub-surface snow-ice model, surface albedo is calculated from the simulated snow grain shape and size, snow depth, meltwater accumulation, cloudiness and ice albedo. The use of snow metamorphism processes allows a realistic modelling of the temporal variations in the surface albedo during both melting periods and accumulation events. Concerning the surface albedo, the main finding is that an accurate albedo simulation during the melting season strongly depends on a proper initialization of the surface conditions which mainly result from winter accumulation processes. Furthermore, in a sensitivity experiment with a constant 0.8 albedo over the whole ice sheet, the average amount of melt decreased by more than 60%, which highlights the importance of a correctly simulated surface albedo. The use of this coupled atmosphere–snow RCM offers new perspectives in the study of the Greenland surface mass balance due to the represented feedback between the surface climate and the surface albedo, which is the most sensitive parameter in energy-balance-based ablation calculations. [less ▲]

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See detailGreenland surface mass balance simulated by a regional climate model and comparison with satellite derived data in 1990-1991
Fettweis, Xavier ULiege; Gallée, Hubert; Lefebre, Filip et al

in Climate Dynamics (2005), 24

The 1990 and 1991 ablation seasons over Greenland are simulated with a coupled atmosphere-snow regional climate model with a 25-km horizontal resolution. The simulated snow water content allows a direct ... [more ▼]

The 1990 and 1991 ablation seasons over Greenland are simulated with a coupled atmosphere-snow regional climate model with a 25-km horizontal resolution. The simulated snow water content allows a direct comparison with the satellite-derived melt signal. The model is forced with 6-hourly ERA-40 reanalysis at its boundaries. An evaluation of the simulated precipitation and a comparison of the modelled melt zone and the surface albedo with remote sensing observations are presented. Both the distribution and quantity of the simulated precipitation agree with observations from coastal weather stations, estimates from other models and the ERA-40 reanalysis. There are overestimations along the steep eastern coast, which are most likely due to the “topographic barrier effect”. The simulated extent and time evolution of the wet snow zone compare generally well with satellite-derived data, except during rainfall events on the ice sheet and because of a bias in the passive microwave retrieved melt signal. Although satellite-based surface albedo retrieval is only valid in the case of clear sky, the interpolation and the correction of these data enable us to validate the simulated albedo on the scale of the whole Greenland. These two comparisons highlight a large sensitivity of the remote sensing observations to weather conditions. Our high-resolution climate model was used to improve the retrieval algorithms by taking more fully into account the atmosphere variability. Finally, the good agreement of the simulated melting surface with the improved satellite signal allows a detailed estimation of the melting volume from the simulation. [less ▲]

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See detailGreenland ice sheet melt: intercomparison between SSM/I and a regional climate model
Fettweis, Xavier ULiege

Conference (2004, April 27)

The daily melt extent on the Greenland ice sheet can easily be retrieved from satellite observations and therefore is a very useful index to study the surface mass balance (SMB) evolution of the last ... [more ▼]

The daily melt extent on the Greenland ice sheet can easily be retrieved from satellite observations and therefore is a very useful index to study the surface mass balance (SMB) evolution of the last years. It is also particularly helpful for the validation of a model because there is little in-situ observations on the Greenland ice sheet. The remote sensing melt-detection algorithms use the changes in microwave brightness temperatures during snowmelt. The most used one on Greenland is the cross-polarized gradient ratio (XPGR) method from Abdalati and Steffen (1997)*. It was found from a comparison with simulations made by the regional climate model MAR (Modèle Atmosphérique Régional) that the rainfall on the ice sheet in summer perturbs the melt signal detected by XPGR via the 37-Ghz vertical channel. An improved XPGR algorithm was developed. We present here our motivation to modify the XPGR. An intercomparaison between the SSM/I derived observations and the MAR is performed. The aim is to validate our model, in order to study the SMB for future climate. The simulated extent and time evolution of the wet snow zone compares better with satellite derived data when the modified XPGR method is used. [less ▲]

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