Scope of activities
Motivated by the need for accurate and timely estimates of glacier and ice-sheet contributions to sea-level rise, this team has more recently focused on resolving the forcings for and impacts of mass balance changes. Moving forward, the team will continue to integrate observational capacities and numerical models of Arctic ice, but with a renewed focus on the downstream consequences of glacier runoff, glacier modeling scaled globally, and sea level rise fingerprinting. We will engage government scientists, university scholars, early career scientists and stakeholder NGOs.
is focused on observations and model development to better understand changes to land-ice and subsequent impact of these changes on sea level and downstream ecosystems. We continue to discover new ways that glacier ice (and the loss of ice) influences hydrology, ecology and sea level. The changes in the land-ice system interact with and feedback to other areas of interest to , including the atmosphere, sea ice, and terrestrial ecosystems. These interactions occur on a variety of time and space scales, and their consequences are important for enhancing the well-being of Arctic residents, regional and national security, stewardship of the Arctic environment, and the role of the Arctic in the global system.
Photo by Jim Pottinger (PolarTREC 2011), Courtesy of
The ’s achievements include: continuation of, and planning for, future satellite and aircraft observing of ice sheet and glacier status and trends (Performance Element 5.1.1); continued development and refinement of ice sheet models (Performance Element 5.2.1); multiple large datasets that provide valuable model constraints were released including the Surface Mass Balance and Snow on Sea Ice Working Group (SUMup), MakingEarth System Data Records for Use in Research Environments (), Greenland termini and ice velocity, various IceBridge datasets and Arctic Digital Elevation Models (ArcticDEM) (Performance Element 5.2.2). Several new papers were published [e.g., Beamer et al., 2016; Brinkerhoff et al., 2017; Felikson et al., 2017; Noël et al., 2017] that link observations and models to resolve important processes and coupling between glaciers and downstream systems (Performance Element 5.2.3).
Beamer, J. P., D. F. Hill, A. Arendt, and G. E. Liston (2016), High-resolution modeling of coastal freshwater discharge and glacier mass balance in the Gulf of Alaska watershed: COASTAL FWD AND GVL IN GOA WATERSHED, Water Resour. Res., 52(5), 3888–3909, doi:10.1002/2015WR018457.
Brinkerhoff, D., M. Truffer, and A. Aschwanden (2017), Sediment transport drives tidewater glacier periodicity, Nat. Commun., 8(1), doi:10.1038/s41467-017-00095-5.
Felikson, D. et al. (2017), Inland thinning on the Greenland ice sheet controlled by outlet glacier geometry, Nat. Geosci., 10(5), 366–369, doi:10.1038/ngeo2934.
Noël, B., W. J. van de Berg, S. Lhermitte, B. Wouters, H. Machguth, I. Howat, M. Citterio, G. Moholdt, J. T. M. Lenaerts, and M. R. van den Broeke (2017), A tipping point in refreezing accelerates mass loss of Greenland’s glaciers and ice caps, Nat. Commun., 8, 14730, doi:10.1038/ncomms14730.
Collaborations Between Federal Agencies and the Research Community
The team organized a number of well-attended monthly meetings. The presentations are archived on the collaborations website. Two of these have involved joint meetings with other collaboration teams (Atmosphere and Marine Ecosystems teams). continued to inform and support for the Study of Environmental Arctic Change () Land-Ice group.
The Land Ice Interaction Team has produced a brief for policymakers on Arctic Land Ice Loss (https://www.arcus.org/files/page/documents/19092/search-science-brief-2016_decreasing-land-ice.pdf) and another on links between sea ice loss and land ice loss (https://www.arcus.org/files/search/briefs/07_arctic_answers_2017_melting_ice_and_sea_level.pdf).
sessions are scheduled (Societal impacts of global cryosphere change and associated mitigation and adaptation policies) to disseminate research broadly.
The National Snow and Ice Data Center () held a Global Land Ice Measurements from Space (GLIMS) workshop to address consistency and automation in glacier mapping.
An international workshop was held in January to discuss the opportunities for basic and applied science using Greenland Network () – a distributed array of stations around the perimeter of the Greenland Ice Sheet. Many of these involve the collection of time series of processes associated with the variability of the Greenland Ice Sheet mass. A workshop report draft is available.
Facing possible budget shortfalls, engaged with stakeholders to preserve the 50+ year Benchmark Glacier project, which provides the longest-standing observational history of glacier change in the United States. also worked together with the Climate Science Centers to disseminate research related to glacier-ecosystem linkages to decision makers. glaciologists participated in a field trip for congressional staff, briefing them on glacier-climate research.
Priorities for 2018
During FY2018, the leadership anticipates increasing the number of inter-collaboration team meetings and hosting a meeting where agencies with smaller glaciological programs brief the community on their efforts to increase collaborative opportunities between small and large agencies.
Highlight events for this driver for the include three meetings held this year, which focused mostly on improved process understanding and modeling of the Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS) and Arctic glaciers and additional elements of the Arctic cryosphere. These three meetings brought together modelers and observationalists from several disciplines in Earth Science to address outstanding atmospheric, subglacial, and operational questions concerning the present state and future of the Arctic cryosphere.
Communication and collaboration were bolstered by these meetings, which consistently recruited and engaged numerous Federal and non-federal scientists. For example, Federal and academic scientists discussed the challenges of projecting the future of the GrIS, and ice-sheet modelers were exposed to the complexity and variability of sub-daily radiative forcing and sediment discharge across the GrIS.
- New satellite missions are a focus this year. ICESat-2 data are now available, plus, plus there are ongoing developments with Landsat-9 and (2020).
- Given federal budget uncertainty, we wish to continue engage agency-level program managers with the .
- Emphasize recent advances in multi-system integrated numerical models and how we can better couple glaciers into Earth system models.