The Arctic is the region on Earth that is warming the fastest. At the same time, Arctic sea ice is reducing while the Greenland ice sheet (GrIS) is losing mass at an accelerated pace. Here, we study the seasonal impact of reduced Arctic sea ice on GrIS surface mass balance (SMB), using the Community Earth System Model version 2.1 (CESM2), which features an advanced, interactive calculation of SMB. Addressing the impact of sea-ice reductions on the GrIS SMB from observations is difficult due to the short observational records. Also, signals detected using transient climate simulations may be aliases of other forcings. Here, we analyze dedicated simulations from the Polar Amplification Model Intercomparison Project with reduced Arctic sea ice and compare them with preindustrial sea ice simulations while keeping all other forcings constant. In response to reduced sea ice, the GrIS SMB increases in winter due to increased precipitation, driven by the more humid atmosphere and increasing cyclones. In summer, surface melt increases due to a warmer, more humid atmosphere providing increased energy transfer to the surface through the sensible and latent heat fluxes, which triggers the melt-albedo feedback. Further, warming occurs throughout the entire troposphere over Baffin Bay. This deep warming results in regional enhancement of the 500 hPa geopotential heights over the Baffin Bay and Greenland, increasing blocking and heat advection over the GrIS’ surface. This anomalous circulation pattern has been linked to recent increases in the surface melt of the GrIS.
- Community Earth System Model 2.1
- GrIS Surface mass balance