Feasibility of improving a priori regional climate model estimates of Greenland ice sheet surface mass loss through assimilation of measured ice surface temperatures
The Greenland ice sheet (GrIS) has been the focus of climate studies due to its considerable impact on sea level rise. Accurate estimates of surface mass fluxes would contribute to understanding the cause of its recent changes and would help to better estimate the past, current and future contribution of the GrIS to sea level rise. Though the estimates of the GrIS surface mass fluxes have improved significantly over the last decade, there is still considerable disparity between the results from different methodologies (e.g., Rae et al., 2012; Vernon et al., 2013). The data assimilation approach can merge information from different methodologies in a consistent way to improve the GrIS surface mass fluxes. In this study, an ensemble batch smoother data assimilation approach was developed to assess the feasibility of generating a reanalysis estimate of the GrIS surface mass fluxes via integrating remotely sensed ice surface temperature measurements with a regional climate model (a priori) estimate. The performance of the proposed methodology for generating an improved posterior estimate was investigated within an observing system simulation experiment (OSSE) framework using synthetically generated ice surface temperature measurements. The results showed that assimilation of ice surface temperature time series were able to overcome uncertainties in near-surface meteorological forcing variables that drive the GrIS surface processes. Our findings show that the proposed methodology is able to generate posterior reanalysis estimates of the surface mass fluxes that are in good agreement with the synthetic true estimates. The results also showed that the proposed data assimilation framework improves the root-mean-square error of the posterior estimates of runoff, sublimation/evaporation, surface condensation, and surface mass loss fluxes by 61, 64, 76, and 62 %, respectively, over the nominal a priori climate model estimates.
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