A 45-Y Hindcast of Antarctic Surface Mass Balance Using Polar MM5
This award supports a comprehensive investigation of the spatial and temporal characteristics of the surface mass balance of the Antarctic ice sheet and the governing mechanisms that affect it. A mesoscale atmospheric model, adapted for Antarctic conditions (Polar MM5), will be used in conjunction with the newly available reanalysis from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) to resolve the surface mass balance of Antarctica at a time resolution of 3 hours and a spatial resolution of 60 km from 1957 to 2001. Polar MM5 will be upgraded to account for key processes in the simulation, including explicit consideration of blowing snow transport and sublimation as well as surface melting/runoff. The proposed 45-y hindcast of all Antarctic surface mass balance components with a limited area model has not previously been attempted and will provide a dataset of unprecedented scope to complement existing ice core measurements of recent climate, especially those collected by the International Transantarctic Scientific Expedition (ITASE). The trends and variability in space and time over 4.5 decades will be resolved and the impact of the dominant modes of atmospheric variability (Antarctic Oscillation, El Nino-Southern Oscillation, etc.) will be isolated. Hypotheses concerning the Antarctic surface mass balance response to climate change will be tested. The research will provide a sound basis for evaluating the impact of future climate change on Antarctic surface mass balance and its contribution to global sea level change as well as providing an important perspective for the interpretation of Antarctic ice core records. The broader impacts include the education of a Ph.D. student, the development of material for use in university classes, and construction of an interactive educational webpage on Antarctic surface mass balance.
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