Scambos Ted

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  • Article
    Challenges to understanding the dynamic response of Greenland's marine terminating glaciers to oceanic and atmospheric forcing
    (American Meteorological Society, 2013-08) Straneo, Fiamma ; Heimbach, Patrick ; Sergienko, Olga ; Hamilton, Gordon S. ; Catania, Ginny ; Griffies, Stephen M. ; Hallberg, Robert ; Jenkins, Adrian ; Joughin, Ian ; Motyka, Roman ; Pfeffer, W. Tad ; Price, Stephen F. ; Rignot, Eric ; Scambos, Ted ; Truffer, Martin ; Vieli, Andreas
    The recent retreat and speedup of outlet glaciers, as well as enhanced surface melting around the ice sheet margin, have increased Greenland's contribution to sea level rise to 0.6 ± 0.1 mm yr−1 and its discharge of freshwater into the North Atlantic. The widespread, near-synchronous glacier retreat, and its coincidence with a period of oceanic and atmospheric warming, suggests a common climate driver. Evidence points to the marine margins of these glaciers as the region from which changes propagated inland. Yet, the forcings and mechanisms behind these dynamic responses are poorly understood and are either missing or crudely parameterized in climate and ice sheet models. Resulting projected sea level rise contributions from Greenland by 2100 remain highly uncertain. This paper summarizes the current state of knowledge and highlights key physical aspects of Greenland's coupled ice sheet–ocean–atmosphere system. Three research thrusts are identified to yield fundamental insights into ice sheet, ocean, sea ice, and atmosphere interactions, their role in Earth's climate system, and probable trajectories of future changes: 1) focused process studies addressing critical glacier, ocean, atmosphere, and coupled dynamics; 2) sustained observations at key sites; and 3) inclusion of relevant dynamics in Earth system models. Understanding the dynamic response of Greenland's glaciers to climate forcing constitutes both a scientific and technological frontier, given the challenges of obtaining the appropriate measurements from the glaciers' marine termini and the complexity of the dynamics involved, including the coupling of the ocean, atmosphere, glacier, and sea ice systems. Interdisciplinary and international cooperation are crucial to making progress on this novel and complex problem.
  • Article
    Foehn winds link climate-driven warming to ice shelf evolution in Antarctica
    (John Wiley & Sons, 2015-11-03) Cape, Mattias R. ; Vernet, Maria ; Skvarca, Pedro ; Marinsek, Sebastian ; Scambos, Ted ; Domack, Eugene
    Rapid warming of the Antarctic Peninsula over the past several decades has led to extensive surface melting on its eastern side, and the disintegration of the Prince Gustav, Larsen A, and Larsen B ice shelves. The warming trend has been attributed to strengthening of circumpolar westerlies resulting from a positive trend in the Southern Annular Mode (SAM), which is thought to promote more frequent warm, dry, downsloping foehn winds along the lee, or eastern side, of the peninsula. We examined variability in foehn frequency and its relationship to temperature and patterns of synoptic-scale circulation using a multidecadal meteorological record from the Argentine station Matienzo, located between the Larsen A and B embayments. This record was further augmented with a network of six weather stations installed under the U.S. NSF LARsen Ice Shelf System, Antarctica, project. Significant warming was observed in all seasons at Matienzo, with the largest seasonal increase occurring in austral winter (+3.71°C between 1962–1972 and 1999–2010). Frequency and duration of foehn events were found to strongly influence regional temperature variability over hourly to seasonal time scales. Surface temperature and foehn winds were also sensitive to climate variability, with both variables exhibiting strong, positive correlations with the SAM index. Concomitant positive trends in foehn frequency, temperature, and SAM are present during austral summer, with sustained foehn events consistently associated with surface melting across the ice sheet and ice shelves. These observations support the notion that increased foehn frequency played a critical role in precipitating the collapse of the Larsen B ice shelf.
  • Article
    How fast is the Greenland ice sheet melting?
    (Taylor & Francis Open Access, 2021-10-12) Scambos, Ted ; Straneo, Fiamma ; Tedesco, Marco
    THE ISSUE The Greenland Ice Sheet and the glacier-covered areas of Alaska and other Arctic lands are losing ice at an accelerating rate, contributing billions of tons of water to sea level rise. WHY IT MATTERS Ice loss from the ice sheets contributes directly to sea level rise. These losses are likely to increase rapidly as warming in the Arctic continues. Surface melt and runoff is now increasing more quickly than all other factors driving Greenland’s ice loss, although faster glacier outflow remains important. Increased ice loss from Alaska’s glaciers is also due mainly to surface melting. Given these trends, and the rapid warming in the Arctic (twice the global rate of warming), the Arctic is poised to lose ice even more rapidly and raise sea level. STATE OF KNOWLEDGE Since 2000, the net loss of ice from the Greenland Ice Sheet has increased five-fold, from 50 billion to about 250 billion tons per year1,2 (362 billion tons is equal to 1 mm in sea level rise). Ice losses in the Gulf of Alaska region have risen from about 40 to 70 billion tons per year3. These trends are confirmed by three independent satellite methods, using gravitational changes, elevation changes, and changes in the mass budget (the net difference between snowfall and the combination of glacier outflow and runoff)1. In total, the Arctic currently contributes approximately 350 billion tons (~1 mm) to sea level each year, primarily from Greenland, Alaska, and Arctic Canada. Recent measurements of the rate of sea level rise are 3.0 mm per year, with the additional rise coming from other glaciers and Antarctica (~0.4. mm) and expansion of the oceans due to warming (~1.7 mm)4. Slightly cooler summer seasons for Greenland in 2013 and 2014, and again in 2017 and 2018, temporarily reduced the rate of ice loss. Ocean temperatures cooled in some places along the western Greenland coast, slowing glacier outflow there5. However, strong melting in 2015, 2016 and 2019 again contributed large amounts of runoff to the ocean2. Because surface melt is closely tied to seasonal weather conditions, it is more variable than ice loss due to increased glacier outflow. Despite this variability, the overall warming trend of Arctic air and ocean has driven greatly increased melting and ice loss in Greenland and Alaska in the past two decades. As spring and summer temperatures have increased, net runoff of meltwater has grown dramatically (Figure 1). Ice loss due to faster glacier flow has remained stable overall and is unlikely to accelerate as rapidly as melting. Current increases in surface melt runoff rate are about twice that of ice loss due to increased ice flow speed1. As intense summer melt seasons like 2012, 2016, and 2019 become more common, further increases in melt runoff are inevitable.