Project Information
Collaborative Research: Present and Projected Future Forcings on Antarctic Peninsula Glaciers and Ice Shelves using the Weather Forecasting and Research (WRF) Model
Start Date:
End Date:
Over the last half century the Antarctic Peninsula has been among the most rapidly warming regions in the world. This has led to increased glacier melt, widespread glacier retreat, ice-shelf collapses, and glacier speed-ups. Many of these changes are driven by changing precipitation and increased melt due to warmer air temperatures. This project will use a combination of two models - a regional atmospheric model and a model of processes at the glacier surface - to simulate future changes in temperature and snowfall, and the resulting changes in glacier mass. The combination of models will be tested against the observational record (since 1979 when satellite observations became available), to verify that it can reproduce observed change, and then run to the year 2100. Results will provide better estimates of the impacts of future climate changes over the Antarctic Pensinsula and the expected glacier mass changes driven by the evolving climate.

The project will use the large changes observed on the Peninsula to validate a model framework suitable for understanding the impact of these changes on the glaciers and ice shelves there, with the goal of developing optimally constrained future climate and surface mass change scenarios for the region. The framework will provide both a coherent picture of the impacts of past changes on the region's ice cover, and also the best available constraints on forcings that will determine ice mass loss from this region going forward under a standard scenario. The Weather Forecasting and Research (WRF) Model will be used over the domain of the Antarctic Peninsula and neighboring islands to quantify trends in spatio-temporal patterns of mass change with a focus on surface melt. The WRF model will be enhanced to account for the specific conditions of glacier surfaces, and the modified model will be used to simulate climate conditions and resulting surface mass budgets and melt over the period 1979-2100. Tying modeled past climate changes to the surface and satellite-based observational record will provide a foundation for interpreting projected future change. Results will be validated using available weather station observations, surface mass-balance data, and satellite-derived records of melt. The activity will foster partnerships through collaboration with colleagues in Spain, Germany and The Netherlands and will support an early-career postdoctoral researcher and two graduate students, introduce undergraduate and high-school students to original research and provide training of students through inclusion of data and results in course curriculums.
Person Role
Zhang, Jing Investigator and contact
Hock, Regine Investigator
Fahnestock, Mark Co-Investigator
Antarctic Glaciology Award # 1543445
AMD - DIF Record(s)
Data Management Plan
None in the Database
Product Level:
4 (model output and interpretations)
Platforms and Instruments

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