Yue, Chao; et al. (2021): Insensitivity of mass loss of Icelandic Vatnajökull ice cap to solar geoengineering

Yue, Chao; Schmidt, Louise Steffensen; Zhao, Liyun; Wolovick, Michael; Moore, John C. (2021): Insensitivity of mass loss of Icelandic Vatnajökull ice cap to solar geoengineering. [in review]. In The Cryosphere Discuss. [preprint]. DOI: 10.5194/tc-2021-318.

„Geoengineering by stratospheric aerosol injection (SAI) may reduce the mass loss from Vatnajökull ice cap (VIC), Iceland, by slowing surface temperature rise, despite relative increases in ocean heat flux brought by the Atlantic Meridional Circulation (AMOC). Although surface mass balance (SMB) is affected by the local climate, the sea level contribution is also dependent on ice dynamics. We use the Parallel Ice Sheet Model (PISM) to estimate the VIC mass balance under the CMIP5 (Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5) RCP4.5, 8.5 and GeoMIP (Geoengineering Model Intercomparison Project) G4 SAI scenarios during the period 1982–2089. The G4 scenario is based on the RCP4.5, but with additional 5 Tg yr−1 of SO2 injection to the lower stratosphere. By 2089, G4 reduces VIC mass loss from 16 % lost under RCP4.5, to 12 %. Ice dynamics are important for ice cap loss rates, increasing mass loss for RCP4.5 and G4 by 1/4 to 1/3 compared with excluding ice dynamics, but making no difference to mass loss difference under the scenarios. We find that VIC dynamics are remarkably insensitive to climate forcing partly because of AMOC compensation to SMB and low rates of iceberg calving making ocean forcing close to negligible. But the exceptionally high geothermal heat flow under parts of the ice cap which produces correspondingly high basal melt rates means that surface forcing changes are relatively less important than for glaciers with lower geothermal heat flow.“