The role of regional feedbacks in glacial inception on Baffin Island: the interaction of ice flow and meteorology
Author(s)Birch, Leah; Cronin, Timothy Wallace; Tziperman, Eli
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Over the past 0.8 million years, 100 kyr ice ages have dominated Earth's climate with geological evidence suggesting the last glacial inception began in the mountains of Baffin Island. Currently, state-of-the-art global climate models (GCMs) have difficulty simulating glacial inception, possibly due in part to their coarse horizontal resolution and the neglect of ice flow dynamics in some models. We attempt to address the role of regional feedbacks in the initial inception problem on Baffin Island by asynchronously coupling the Weather Research and Forecast (WRF) model, configured as a high-resolution inner domain over Baffin and an outer domain incorporating much of North America, to an ice flow model using the shallow ice approximation. The mass balance is calculated from WRF simulations and used to drive the ice model, which updates the ice extent and elevation, that then serve as inputs to the next WRF run. We drive the regional WRF configuration using atmospheric boundary conditions from 1986 that correspond to a relatively cold summer, and with 115 kya insolation. Initially, ice accumulates on mountain glaciers, driving downslope ice flow which expands the size of the ice caps. However, continued iterations of the atmosphere and ice models reveal a stagnation of the ice sheet on Baffin Island, driven by melting due to warmer temperatures at the margins of the ice caps. This warming is caused by changes in the regional circulation that are forced by elevation changes due to the ice growth. A stabilizing feedback] between ice elevation and atmospheric circulation thus prevents full inception from occurring.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences
Climate of the Past
Birch, Leah, et al. “The Role of Regional Feedbacks in Glacial Inception on Baffin Island: The Interaction of Ice Flow and Meteorology.” Climate of the Past 14, 10 (October 2018): 1441–62
Final published version