Recent studies indicate that the dynamics of fast-flowing, marine-terminating outlet glaciers of the Greenland ice sheet may be sensitive to climate and ocean forcing on sub-annual timescales. Observations of seasonal behavior of these glaciers at such high temporal resolution, however, are currently few. Here we present observations of front position, flow speed, near-surface air temperature and ocean conditions for six large marine-terminating glaciers in the Uummannaq region of West Greenland, to investigate controls on short-term glacier dynamics. As proposed by other studies, we find that seasonal front advance and retreat correlates with the formation and disappearance of an ice melange. Our data suggest that high sea-surface temperature, anomalously low sea-ice concentration and reduced melange formation in early 2003 have triggered multi-year retreat of several glaciers in the study area, which is consistent with other regions in Greenland. Of the stable glaciers, only Rink Isbræ exhibits a seasonal speed variation that correlates with variations in front position, with the others undergoing mid-summer deceleration that indicates the effects of subglacial meltwater discharge and drainage system evolution. Drainage of supraglacial lakes and water-filled crevasses results in substantial decreases in speed (40–60%) on fast-flowing glaciers. Our results demonstrate that attempts to model ice-sheet evolution must take into account short-timescale flow dynamics resulting from drainage events and oceanographic conditions.
It is the purpose of this paper to provide a comprehensive documentation of the new NCAR (National Center for Atmospheric Research) version of the spectral element (SE) dynamical core as part of the Community Earth System Model (CESM2.0) release. This version differs from previous releases of the SE dynamical core in several ways. Most notably the hybrid sigma vertical coordinate is based on dry air mass, the condensates are dynamically active in the thermodynamic and momentum equations (also referred to as condensate loading), and the continuous equations of motion conserve a more comprehensive total energy that includes condensates. Not related to the vertical coordinate change, the hyperviscosity operators and the vertical remapping algorithms have been modified. The code base has been significantly reduced, sped up, and cleaned up as part of integrating SE as a dynamical core in the CAM (Community Atmosphere Model) repository rather than importing the SE dynamical core from High‐Order Methods Modeling environment as an external code.
The sensitivity of the mean state of the Community Atmosphere Model to horizontal resolutions typical of present-day general circulation models is investigated in an aquaplanet configuration. Nonconvergence of the mean state is characterized by a progressive drying of the atmosphere and large reductions in cloud coverage with increasing resolution. Analyses of energy and moisture budgets indicate that these trends are balanced by variations in moisture transport by the resolved circulation, and a reduction in activity of the convection scheme. In contrast, the large-scale precipitation rate increases with resolution, which is approximately balanced by greater advection of dry static energy associated with more active resolved vertical motion in the ascent region of the Hadley cell. An explanation for the sensitivity of the mean state to horizontal resolution is proposed, based on linear Boussinesq theory. The authors hypothesize that an increase in horizontal resolution in the model leads to a reduction in horizontal scale of the diabatic forcing arising from the column physics, facilitating finescale flow and faster resolved convective updrafts within the dynamical core, and steering the coupled system toward a new mean state. This hypothesis attempts to explain the underlying mechanism driving the variations in moisture transport observed in the simulations.
Climatic deterioration in northeastern Canada following the last interglacial resulted in the formation and abrupt expansion of the Laurentide Ice Sheet. However, the physical mechanisms leading to rapid ice sheet expansion are not well understood. Here, the authors report on experiments using an ice sheet model asynchronously coupled to a GCM to investigate the role of ice sheet-climate feedbacks in terminating the last interglacial period. In agreement with simpler models, the experiments indicate that a specific type of ice-albedo feedback, the small ice cap instability, is the dominant process controlling rapid expansion of the Laurentide Ice Sheet. As ice elevations increase in northeastern Canada, a stationary wave forms and strengthens over the Laurentide Ice Sheet, which acts to hinder further expansion of the ice margin and reduce the effect of the small ice cap instability. The sensitivity of these feedbacks to ice topography results in a reduction in simulated ice volume when the communication interval between the GCM and ice sheet model is lengthened since this permits larger gains in ice elevation between GCM updates and biases the simulation toward a stronger stationary wave feedback. The shortest communication interval (500 yr) leads to a Laurentide ice volume of 6 3 10 6 km 3 in 10 kyr, which is less than ice volume estimates based on the geological record but is a substantial improvement over previous GCM studies. The authors discuss potential improvements to the asynchronous coupling scheme that would more accurately resolve ice sheet-climate feedbacks, potentially leading to greater simulated ice volume.
Atmospheric modeling with element-based high-order Galerkin methods presents a unique challenge to the conventional physics–dynamics coupling paradigm, due to the highly irregular distribution of nodes within an element and the distinct numerical characteristics of the Galerkin method. The conventional coupling procedure is to evaluate the physical parameterizations ( physics) on the dynamical core grid. Evaluating the physics at the nodal points exacerbates numerical noise from the Galerkin method, enabling and amplifying local extrema at element boundaries. Grid imprinting may be substantially reduced through the introduction of an entirely separate, approximately isotropic finite-volume grid for evaluating the physics forcing. Integration of the spectral basis over the control volumes provides an area-average state to the physics, which is more representative of the state in the vicinity of the nodal points rather than the nodal point itself and is more consistent with the notion of a “large-scale state” required by conventional physics packages. This study documents the implementation of a quasi-equal-area physics grid into NCAR’s Community Atmosphere Model Spectral Element and is shown to be effective at mitigating grid imprinting in the solution. The physics grid is also appropriate for coupling to other components within the Community Earth System Model, since the coupler requires component fluxes to be defined on a finite-volume grid, and one can be certain that the fluxes on the physics grid are, indeed, volume averaged.
Abstract. In this study, the resolution dependence of the simulated Greenland ice sheet surface mass balance (GrIS SMB) in the variable-resolution Community Earth System Model (VR-CESM) is investigated. Coupled atmosphere–land simulations are performed on two regionally refined grids over Greenland at 0.5∘ (∼55 km) and 0.25∘ (∼28 km), maintaining a quasi-uniform resolution of 1∘ (∼111 km) over the rest of the globe. On the refined grids, the SMB in the accumulation zone is significantly improved compared to airborne radar and in situ observations, with a general wetting (more snowfall) at the margins and a drying (less snowfall) in the interior GrIS. Total GrIS precipitation decreases with resolution, which is in line with best-available regional climate model results. In the ablation zone, CESM starts developing a positive SMB bias with increased resolution in some basins, notably in the east and the north. The mismatch in ablation is linked to changes in cloud cover in VR-CESM, and a reduced effectiveness of the elevation classes subgrid parametrization in CESM. Overall, our pilot study introduces VR-CESM as a new tool in the cryospheric sciences, which could be used to dynamically downscale SMB in scenario simulations and to force dynamical ice sheet models through the CESM coupling framework.
A set of idealized experiments are developed using the Community Atmosphere Model (CAM) to understand the vertical velocity response to reductions in forcing scale that is known to occur when the horizontal resolution of the model is increased. The test consists of a set of rising bubble experiments, in which the horizontal radius of the bubble and the model grid spacing are simultaneously reduced. The test is performed with moisture, through incorporating moist physics routines of varying complexity, although convection schemes are not considered. Results confirm that the vertical velocity in CAM is to first‐order, proportional to the inverse of the horizontal forcing scale, which is consistent with a scale analysis of the dry equations of motion. In contrast, experiments in which the coupling time step between the moist physics routines and the dynamical core (i.e., the “physics” time step) are relaxed back to more conventional values results in severely damped vertical motion at high resolution, degrading the scaling. A set of aqua‐planet simulations using different physics time steps are found to be consistent with the results of the idealized experiments.
Advances in high-performance computing make it possible to run atmospheric general circulation models (AGCMs) over an increasingly wider range of grid resolutions, using either globally uniform or variable-resolution grids. In principle, this is an exciting opportunity to resolve atmospheric process and scales in a global model and in unprecedented detail, but in practice this grid flexibility is incompatible with the non-or weakly converging solutions with increasing horizontal resolution that have long characterized AGCMs. In the the Community Atmosphere Model (CAM), there are robust sensitivities to horizontal resolution that have persisted since the model was first introduced over thirty years ago; the atmosphere progressively dries and becomes less cloudy with resolution, and parametrized deep convective precipitation decreases at the expense of stratiform precipitation. This study documents a convergence experiment using CAM, version 6, and argues that a unifying cause, the sensitivity of resolved dynamical modes to native grid resolution, feeds back into other model components and explains these robust sensitivities to resolution. The increasing magnitudes of resolved vertical velocities with resolution are shown to fit an analytic scaling derived for the equations of motion at hydrostatic scales. This trend in vertical velocities results in an increase in resolved upward moisture fluxes at cloud base, balanced by an increase in stratiform precipitation rates with resolution. Compensating, greater magnitude subsiding motion with resolution has previously been shown to dry out the atmosphere and reduce cloud cover. Here, it is shown that both the increase in condensational heating from stratiform cloud formation and greater subsidence drying contribute to an increase in atmospheric stability with resolution, reducing the activity of parametrized convection. The impact of changing the vertical velocity field with native grid resolution cannot be ignored in any effort to recover convergent solutions in AGCMs, and, in particular, the development of scale-aware physical parametrizations.
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