EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

The effect of geothermal heat flux on the deglacial evolution of the Greenland ice sheet

Parviz Ajourlou1, François PH Lapointe1, Glenn A Milne1, and Yasmina Martos2,3
Parviz Ajourlou et al.
  • 1Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON, Canada
  • 2NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, USA
  • 3University of Maryland, College Park, MD, USA

Geothermal heat flux (GHF) is known to be an important control on the basal thermal state of an ice sheet which, in turn, is a key factor in governing how the ice sheet will evolve in response to a given climate forcing. In recent years, several studies have estimated GHF beneath the Greenland ice sheet using different approaches (e.g. Rezvanbehbahani et al., Geophysical Research Letters, 2017; Martos et al., Geophysical Research Letters, 2018; Greve, Polar Data Journal, 2019). Comparing these different estimates indicates poor agreement and thus large uncertainty in our knowledge of this important boundary condition for modelling the ice sheet. The primary aim of this study is to quantify the influence of this uncertainty on modelling the past evolution of the ice sheet with a focus on the most recent deglaciation. We build on past work that considered three GHF models (Rogozhina et al., 2011) by considering over 100 different realizations of this input field. We use the uncertainty estimates from Martos et al. (Geophysical Research Letters, 2018) to generate GHF realisations via a statistical sampling procedure. A sensitivity analysis using these realisations and the Parallel Ice Sheet Model (PISM, Bueler and Brown, Journal of Geophysical Research, 2009) indicates that uncertainty in GHF has a dramatic impact on both the volume and spatial distribution of ice since the last glacial maximum, indicating that more precise constraints on this boundary condition are required to improve our understanding of past ice sheet evolution and, consequently, reduce uncertainty in future projections.

How to cite: Ajourlou, P., PH Lapointe, F., A Milne, G., and Martos, Y.: The effect of geothermal heat flux on the deglacial evolution of the Greenland ice sheet, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-13647,, 2021.


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