Submitted as: development and technical paper 23 Jul 2020

Submitted as: development and technical paper | 23 Jul 2020

Review status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal GMD.

FAMOUS version xotzb (FAMOUS-ice): a GCM capable of energy- and water- conserving coupling to an ice sheet model

Robin S. Smith1,2, Steve George1,2, and Jonathan M. Gregory1,2,3 Robin S. Smith et al.
  • 1NCAS-Climate, University of Reading, UK
  • 2Meteorology Department, University of Reading, UK
  • 3Met Office Hadley Centre, Exeter, UK

Abstract. The physical interactions between ice sheets and their surroundings are major factors in determining the state of the climate system, yet many current Earth System models omit them entirely or approximate them in a heavily parameterised manner. In this work we have improved the snow and ice sheet surface physics in the FAMOUS climate model, with the aim of improving the representation of polar climate and implementing a bidirectional coupling to the Glimmer dynamic ice sheet model using the water and energy fluxes calculated by FAMOUS. FAMOUS and Glimmer are both low resolution, computationally affordable models used for multi-millennial simulations. Glaciated surfaces in the new FAMOUS-ice are modelled using a multi-layer snow scheme capable of simulating compaction of firn and the percolation and refreezing of surface melt. The low horizontal resolution of FAMOUS compared to Glimmer is mitigated by implementing this snow model on sub-gridscale tiles that represent different elevations on the ice sheet within each FAMOUS grid-box. We show that with this approach FAMOUS-ice can simulate relevant physical processes on the surface of the modern Greenland ice sheet well compared to higher resolution climate models, and that the ice sheet state in the coupled FAMOUS-ice-Glimmer system does not drift unacceptably. FAMOUS-ice coupled to Glimmer is thus a useful tool for modelling the physics and co-evolution of climate and grounded ice sheets on centennial and millennial timescales, with applications to scientific questions relevant to both paleoclimate and future sea level rise.

Robin S. Smith et al.

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Robin S. Smith et al.

Robin S. Smith et al.


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Short summary
Many of the complex computer models used to study the physics of the natural world treat ice sheets as fixed and unchanging, capable of only very simple interactions with the rest of the climate. This is partly because it is technically very difficult to usefully do anything else. We have adapted a climate model so it can be joined together with a dynamical model of the Greenland ice sheet. This gives us a powerful tool to help us understand better how ice sheets and the climate interact.