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

Coupling the U.K. Earth System Model to dynamic models of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets

Robin Smith1, Pierre Mathiot2, Antony Siahaan3, Victoria Lee4, Stephen Cornford5, Jonathan Gregory1,6, Antony Payne4, Adrian Jenkins7, Paul Holland3, and Colin Jones8
Robin Smith et al.
  • 1NCAS, University of Reading, Reading, United Kingdom (
  • 2IGE, Université Grenoble Alpes, Grenoble, France
  • 3British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • 4CPOM, University of Bristol, Bristol, United Kingdom
  • 5CPOM, University of Swansea, Swansea, United Kingdom
  • 6Hadley Centre, Met Office, Exeter, United Kingdom
  • 7Geography and Environmental Sciences, University of Northumbria, United Kingdom
  • 8NCAS, University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom

In this presentation we describe how models of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have been incorporated in the global U.K. Earth System model (UKESM1) with a two-way coupling that passes fluxes of energy, water and the locations of ice surfaces between the component models. Offline, file-based coupling is used throughout to pass information between the components, which is both physically appropriate and convenient within the UKESM1 structure. Ice sheet surface mass balance is computed in the land surface model using sub-gridscale multi-layer snowpacks. Icebergs calved from the ice sheets are fed into a Langrangian iceberg drift scheme in the ocean. Ice shelf basal melt is explicitly calculated in cavities resolved by the ocean model, and ice sheet and shelf geometries are kept consistent in all components. We demonstrate that our coupled model remains stable when simulating changes in ice sheet height, extent and grounding-line position of hundreds of kilometres.

How to cite: Smith, R., Mathiot, P., Siahaan, A., Lee, V., Cornford, S., Gregory, J., Payne, A., Jenkins, A., Holland, P., and Jones, C.: Coupling the U.K. Earth System Model to dynamic models of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-9977,, 2021.

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