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The response of Arctic Ice Masses to Climate Change Modelling, Remote Sensing and Field Measurements


In the future, governments will require increasingly sophisticated information on possible future sea level changes as input to the policy making process. The IPCC has identified the polar ice sheets to be the largest source of uncertainty in explaining the present rise in global sea level. The aim of this proposal is to predict the sensitivity and response of Arctic glaciers and ice caps to climate change over the next century, together with the associated implications for global sea level.
The programme has the following major objectives:
1. To use energy balance models on a representative set of ice masses in the Eurasian Arctic sector to predict their response to an envelope of future climate change scenarios. The deliverable product of this work will be quantitative predictions of glacier mass-balance and sea-level change at the century timescale. For the energy balance modelling to be undertaken successfully, a number of observed parameters are required to provide
(a) boundary conditions and
(b) independent datasets to test model performance.
2. To use a combination of field and satellite remote sensing data from Arctic glaciers to calibrate and test these models. Field data include meteorological and mass balance observations, and airborne and ground measurements of ice surface elevation, thickness and volume from radar studies. Satellite remote sensing data include measurements of ice-surface reflectance or albedo, the shifting position of the snowline, and the rate of mass loss through iceberg production.
Our main field study areas are in the Eurasian Arctic sector which, due to its location at the extremity of the oceanic currents and cyclone tracks transferring heat northward through the North Atlantic, is a highly sensitive part of the Arctic climate system. Key ice masses are Vatnajökull in Iceland, Austfonna in Norwegian Svalbard, Ziegler Island in Franz Josef Land and the Academy of Sciences Ice Cap in Russian Severnaya Zemlya These ice caps are located along a strong environmental gradient from relatively warm and maritime to dry and cold conditions within the Arctic. The Russian High Arctic archipelagos are some of the least well-known areas in the northern hemisphere. Information from this area is therefore important for our knowledge of the Arctic environmental system, especially in the context of global change. Field and remote sensing datsets will be archived digitally in an established database. Energy balance modelling of glacier mass balance will be carried out for ice masses throughout the Arctic using these newly acquired datasets together with existing observations from Greenland and the Canadian Arctic.
The proposal dovetails with several existing international science programmes, in which the partners already play leading roles:
1) The International Arctic Science Committee (IASC) has a core science programme on the mass balance of Arctic glaciers and links with sea-level change.
2) The WCRP Arctic Climate System Study (ACSYS) highlights the importance of linked Arctic atmosphere-ice-ocean processes and variability in modulating the northern hemisphere climate.
3) The IGBP PAGES Programme, and in particular the PEP III environmental transect from the Eurasian Arctic sector southward.
4) The European Space Agency (ESA) Polar Ice Sheets Programme focuses on the links between satellite remote sensing ice sheet variability.
5) The proposal gives input to projects under EUs MAST-m-programme through its predictions of freshwater runoff to the Arctic seas and the implications for ocean thermohaline circulation.
The ICEMASS programme partners consist of institutions in seven European countries, and additional cooperating partners from two eastern European nations.

Call for proposal

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EU contribution
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Mollke Moes vei 85
0316 OSLO

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Participants (6)