Six Decades of Glacial Mass Loss in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago

Brice P.Y. Noël, Willem Jan Van De Berg, Stef Lhermitte, Bert Wouters, Nicole Schaffer, Michiel R. van den Broeke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)
22 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

The Canadian Arctic Archipelago comprises multiple small glaciers and ice caps, mostly concentrated on Ellesmere and Baffin Islands in the northern (NCAA, Northern Canadian Arctic Archipelago) and southern parts (SCAA, Southern Canadian Arctic Archipelago) of the archipelago, respectively. Because
these glaciers are small and show complex geometries, current regional climate models, using 5- to 20-km horizontal resolution, do not properly resolve surface mass balance patterns. Here we present a 58-year (1958–2015) reconstruction of daily surface mass balance of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, statistically
downscaled to 1 km from the output of the regional climate model RACMO2.3 at 11 km. By correcting for biases in elevation and ice albedo, the downscaling method significantly improves runoff estimates over narrow outlet glaciers and isolated ice fields. Since the last two decades, NCAA and SCAA glaciers
have experienced warmer conditions (+1.1 ∘ C) resulting in continued mass loss of 28.2±11.5 and 22.0±4.5 Gt/year, respectively, more than doubling (11.9 Gt/year) and doubling (11.9 Gt/year) the pre-1996 average. While the interior of NCAA ice caps can still buffer most of the additional melt, the lack
of a perennial firn area over low-lying SCAA glaciers has caused uninterrupted mass loss since the 1980s. In the absence of significant refreezing capacity, this indicates inevitable disappearance of these highly sensitive glaciers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1430-1449
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research
Volume123
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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