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  • 2014-2023
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  • The Cryosphere (TC)

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  • image/svg+xml art designer at PLoS, modified by Wikipedia users Nina, Beao, JakobVoss, and AnonMoos Open Access logo, converted into svg, designed by PLoS. This version with transparent background. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Open_Access_logo_PLoS_white.svg art designer at PLoS, modified by Wikipedia users Nina, Beao, JakobVoss, and AnonMoos http://www.plos.org/
    Authors: Winsvold, Solveig H.; Kääb, Andreas; Nuth, Christopher; Andreassen, Liss M.; +2 Authors

    With dense SAR satellite data time series it is possible to map surface and subsurface glacier properties that vary in time. On Sentinel-1A and RADARSAT-2 backscatter time series images over mainland Norway and Svalbard, we outline how to map glaciers using descriptive methods. We present five application scenarios. The first shows potential for tracking transient snow lines with SAR backscatter time series and correlates with both optical satellite images (Sentinel-2A and Landsat 8) and equilibrium line altitudes derived from in situ surface mass balance data. In the second application scenario, time series representation of glacier facies corresponding to SAR glacier zones shows potential for a more accurate delineation of the zones and how they change in time. The third application scenario investigates the firn evolution using dense SAR backscatter time series together with a coupled energy balance and multilayer firn model. We find strong correlation between backscatter signals with both the modeled firn air content and modeled wetness in the firn. In the fourth application scenario, we highlight how winter rain events can be detected in SAR time series, revealing important information about the area extent of internal accumulation. In the last application scenario, averaged summer SAR images were found to have potential in assisting the process of mapping glaciers outlines, especially in the presence of seasonal snow. Altogether we present examples of how to map glaciers and to further understand glaciological processes using the existing and future massive amount of multi-sensor time series data.

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    image/svg+xml art designer at PLoS, modified by Wikipedia users Nina, Beao, JakobVoss, and AnonMoos Open Access logo, converted into svg, designed by PLoS. This version with transparent background. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Open_Access_logo_PLoS_white.svg art designer at PLoS, modified by Wikipedia users Nina, Beao, JakobVoss, and AnonMoos http://www.plos.org/
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      image/svg+xml art designer at PLoS, modified by Wikipedia users Nina, Beao, JakobVoss, and AnonMoos Open Access logo, converted into svg, designed by PLoS. This version with transparent background. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Open_Access_logo_PLoS_white.svg art designer at PLoS, modified by Wikipedia users Nina, Beao, JakobVoss, and AnonMoos http://www.plos.org/ The Cryosphere (TC)arrow_drop_down
      image/svg+xml art designer at PLoS, modified by Wikipedia users Nina, Beao, JakobVoss, and AnonMoos Open Access logo, converted into svg, designed by PLoS. This version with transparent background. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Open_Access_logo_PLoS_white.svg art designer at PLoS, modified by Wikipedia users Nina, Beao, JakobVoss, and AnonMoos http://www.plos.org/
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    Authors: Gilbert, Adrien; Sinisalo, Anna; Gurung, Tika R.; Fujita, Koji; +3 Authors

    In cold and arid climates, small glaciers with cold accumulation zones are often thought to be entirely cold based. However, scattering in ground-penetrating radar (GPR) measurements on the Rikha Samba Glacier in the Nepal Himalayas suggests a large amount of temperate ice that seems to be influenced by the presence of crevassed areas. We used a coupled thermo-mechanical model forced by a firn model accounting for firn heating to interpret the observed thermal regime. Using a simple energy conservation approach, we show that the addition of water percolation and refreezing in crevassed areas explains these observations. Model experiments show that both steady and transient thermal regimes are significantly affected by latent heat release in crevassed areas. This makes half of the glacier base temperate, resulting in an ice dynamic mainly controlled by basal friction instead of ice deformation. The timescale of thermal regime change, in response to atmospheric warming, is also greatly diminished, with a potential switch from cold to temperate basal ice in 50–60 years in the upper part of the glacier instead of the 100–150 years that it would take without the effect of the crevasses. This study highlights the crucial role of water percolation through the crevasses on the thermal regime of glaciers and validates a simple method to account for it in glacier thermo-mechanical models.

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    image/svg+xml art designer at PLoS, modified by Wikipedia users Nina, Beao, JakobVoss, and AnonMoos Open Access logo, converted into svg, designed by PLoS. This version with transparent background. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Open_Access_logo_PLoS_white.svg art designer at PLoS, modified by Wikipedia users Nina, Beao, JakobVoss, and AnonMoos http://www.plos.org/
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      image/svg+xml art designer at PLoS, modified by Wikipedia users Nina, Beao, JakobVoss, and AnonMoos Open Access logo, converted into svg, designed by PLoS. This version with transparent background. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Open_Access_logo_PLoS_white.svg art designer at PLoS, modified by Wikipedia users Nina, Beao, JakobVoss, and AnonMoos http://www.plos.org/
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    Authors: Gilbert, Graham L.; Cable, Stefanie; Thiel, Christine; Christiansen, Hanne H.; +1 Authors

    The Zackenberg River delta is located in northeast Greenland (74°30′ N, 20°30′ E) at the outlet of the Zackenberg fjord valley. The fjord-valley fill consists of a series of terraced deltaic deposits (ca. 2 km2) formed during relative sea-level (RSL) fall. We investigated the deposits using sedimentological and cryostratigraphic techniques together with optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating. We identify four facies associations in sections (4 to 22 m in height) exposed along the modern Zackenberg River and coast. Facies associations relate to (I) overriding glaciers, (II) retreating glaciers and quiescent glaciomarine conditions, (III) delta progradation in a fjord valley, and (IV) fluvial activity and niveo-aeolian processes. Pore, layered, and suspended cryofacies are identified in two 20 m deep ice-bonded sediment cores. The cryofacies distribution, together with low overall ground-ice content, indicates that permafrost is predominately epigenetic in these deposits. Fourteen OSL ages constrain the deposition of the cored deposits to between approximately 13 and 11 ka, immediately following deglaciation. The timing of permafrost aggradation was closely related to delta progradation and began following the subaerial exposure of the delta plain (ca. 11 ka). Our results reveal information concerning the interplay between deglaciation, RSL change, sedimentation, permafrost aggradation, and the timing of these events. These findings have implications for the timing and mode of permafrost aggradation in other fjord valleys in northeast Greenland.

    image/svg+xml art designer at PLoS, modified by Wikipedia users Nina, Beao, JakobVoss, and AnonMoos Open Access logo, converted into svg, designed by PLoS. This version with transparent background. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Open_Access_logo_PLoS_white.svg art designer at PLoS, modified by Wikipedia users Nina, Beao, JakobVoss, and AnonMoos http://www.plos.org/ Norwegian Open Resea...arrow_drop_down
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    Authors: Seroussi, Hélène; Nowicki, Sophie; Simon, Erika; Abe-Ouchi, Ayako; +35 Authors

    Ice sheet numerical modeling is an important tool to estimate the dynamic contribution of the Antarctic ice sheet to sea level rise over the coming centuries. The influence of initial conditions on ice sheet model simulations, however, is still unclear. To better understand this influence, an initial state intercomparison exercise (initMIP) has been developed to compare, evaluate, and improve initialization procedures and estimate their impact on century-scale simulations. initMIP is the first set of experiments of the Ice Sheet Model Intercomparison Project for CMIP6 (ISMIP6), which is the primary Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 6 (CMIP6) activity focusing on the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. Following initMIP-Greenland, initMIP-Antarctica has been designed to explore uncertainties associated with model initialization and spin-up and to evaluate the impact of changes in external forcings. Starting from the state of the Antarctic ice sheet at the end of the initialization procedure, three forward experiments are each run for 100 years: a control run, a run with a surface mass balance anomaly, and a run with a basal melting anomaly beneath floating ice. This study presents the results of initMIP-Antarctica from 25 simulations performed by 16 international modeling groups. The submitted results use different initial conditions and initialization methods, as well as ice flow model parameters and reference external forcings. We find a good agreement among model responses to the surface mass balance anomaly but large variations in responses to the basal melting anomaly. These variations can be attributed to differences in the extent of ice shelves and their upstream tributaries, the numerical treatment of grounding line, and the initial ocean conditions applied, suggesting that ongoing efforts to better represent ice shelves in continental-scale models should continue.

    image/svg+xml art designer at PLoS, modified by Wikipedia users Nina, Beao, JakobVoss, and AnonMoos Open Access logo, converted into svg, designed by PLoS. This version with transparent background. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Open_Access_logo_PLoS_white.svg art designer at PLoS, modified by Wikipedia users Nina, Beao, JakobVoss, and AnonMoos http://www.plos.org/ The Cryosphere (TC)arrow_drop_down
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    image/svg+xml art designer at PLoS, modified by Wikipedia users Nina, Beao, JakobVoss, and AnonMoos Open Access logo, converted into svg, designed by PLoS. This version with transparent background. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Open_Access_logo_PLoS_white.svg art designer at PLoS, modified by Wikipedia users Nina, Beao, JakobVoss, and AnonMoos http://www.plos.org/
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    Authors: Palmtag, Juri; Cable, Stefanie; Christiansen, Hanne H.; Hugelius, Gustaf; +1 Authors

    Soils in the northern high latitudes are a key component in the global carbon cycle, with potential feedback on climate. This study aims to improve the previous soil organic carbon (SOC) and total nitrogen (TN) storage estimates for the Zackenberg area (NE Greenland) that were based on a land cover classification (LCC) approach, by using geomorphological upscaling. In addition, novel organic carbon (OC) estimates for deeper alluvial and deltaic deposits (down to 300 cm depth) are presented. We hypothesise that landforms will better represent the long-term slope and depositional processes that result in deep SOC burial in this type of mountain permafrost environments. The updated mean SOC storage for the 0–100 cm soil depth is 4.8 kg C m−2, which is 42 % lower than the previous estimate of 8.3 kg C m−2 based on land cover upscaling. Similarly, the mean soil TN storage in the 0–100 cm depth decreased with 44 % from 0.50 kg (± 0.1 CI) to 0.28 (±0.1 CI) kg TN m−2. We ascribe the differences to a previous areal overestimate of SOC- and TN-rich vegetated land cover classes. The landform-based approach more correctly constrains the depositional areas in alluvial fans and deltas with high SOC and TN storage. These are also areas of deep carbon storage with an additional 2.4 kg C m−2 in the 100–300 cm depth interval. This research emphasises the need to consider geomorphology when assessing SOC pools in mountain permafrost landscapes.

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    Authors: Treichler, Désirée; Kääb, Andreas; Salzmann, Nadine; Xu, Chong-Yu;

    We present an updated, spatially resolved estimate of 2003–2008 glacier volume changes for entire High Mountain Asia (HMA) from ICESat laser altimetry data. The results reveal a diverse pattern that is driven by spatially greatly varying glacier sensitivity, in particular to precipitation availability and changes. We introduce a spatially resolved zonation where ICESat samples are grouped into units of similar glacier behaviour, glacier type, and topographic settings. In several regions, our new zonation reveals local differences and anomalies that have not been described previously. A step-increase in precipitation around 1997–2000 on the Tibetan Plateau (TP) caused thickening of glaciers in the Eastern Pamirs, Kunlun Shan and central TP by 0.1–0.7 m a−1. The thickening anomaly has a crisp boundary in the Eastern Pamir that continues just north of the central Karakoram. Glaciers in the south and east of the TP were thinning, with increasing rates towards southeast. The precipitation increase is reflected by growth of endorheic lakes in particular in the northern and eastern TP. We estimate lake volume changes through a combination of repeat lake extents from Landsat data and shoreline elevations from ICESat and the SRTM DEM for over 1300 lakes. The rise in water volume contained in the lakes corresponds to 4–25 m a−1, when distributed over entire catchments, for the areas where we see glacier thickening. The precipitation increase is also visible in sparse in-situ measurements and MERRA-2 climate reanalysis data, but less well in ERA Interim reanalysis data. Considering evaporation loss, the difference between average annual precipitation during the 1990s and 2000s suggested by these datasets is 34–100 m a−1, depending on region, which can fully explain both lake growth, and glacier thickening (Kunlun Shan) or glacier geometry changes (eastern TP). The precipitation increase reflected in these glacier changes possibly extended to the northern slopes of the Tarim Basin, where glaciers were nearly in balance in 2003–2008. Along the entire Himalaya, glaciers on the first orographic ridge, which are exposed to abundant precipitation, are thinning less than glaciers in the dryer climate of the inner ranges. Thinning rates in the Tien Shan vary spatially but are rather stronger than in other parts of HMA.

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    Authors: Kääb, Andreas; Strozzi, Tazio; Bolch, Tobias; Caduff, Rafael; +3 Authors

    Spatio-temporal patterns of rock glacier creep have rarely been studied outside the densely populated European Alps. This study investigates the spatial and temporal variability of rock glacier motion in the Ile Alatau and Kungöy Ala-Too mountain ranges, northern Tien Shan. Over the study region of more than 3000 km2, an inventory of slope movements is constructed using a large number of radar interferograms and high-resolution optical imagery. The inventory includes more than 900 landforms, of which around 550 are interpreted as rock glaciers. Out of the active rock glaciers, 45 are characterised by a rate of motion exceeding 1 m/a. From these fast rock glaciers we select six and study them in more detail (Gorodetzky, Morenny, Archaly, Ordzhonikidze, Karakoram and Kugalan Tash rock glaciers) using offset tracking between airphotos, and historical and modern very high resolution optical satellite data. Most of them show an overall increase of decadal surface velocities from the 1950s onwards with speeds being roughly two to three times higher in recent years compared to the 1950s and 1960s. This development indicates a possible significant increase in sediment and ice fluxes through rock glaciers and implies that – when compared to glacier shrinkage – periglacial sediment transport in the region seems to gain importance relative to glacial sediment transport. Those rock glacier fronts reaching the valley floors show a strongly compressive flow regime, and changes in speeds further upstream affect them only in a damped way. The only rock glacier investigated in detail that does not exhibit an overall increase in speed since the 1950s is Gorodetsky where glacier retreat and dead-ice degradation seem to have decoupled the rock glacier from its supply by glacial sediments and ice.

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    Authors: Räisänen, Petri; Makkonen, Risto; Kirkevåg, Alf; Debernard, Jens B.;

    Snow consists of non-spherical grains of various shapes and sizes. Still, in radiative transfer calculations, snow grains are often treated as spherical. This also applies to the computation of snow albedo in the Snow, Ice, and Aerosol Radiation (SNICAR) model and in the Los Alamos sea ice model, version 4 (CICE4), both of which are employed in the Community Earth System Model and in the Norwegian Earth System Model (NorESM). In this study, we evaluate the effect of snow grain shape on climate simulated by NorESM in a slab ocean configuration of the model. An experiment with spherical snow grains (SPH) is compared with another (NONSPH) in which the snow shortwave single-scattering properties are based on a combination of three non-spherical snow grain shapes optimized using measurements of angular scattering by blowing snow. The key difference between these treatments is that the asymmetry parameter is smaller in the non-spherical case (0.77–0.78 in the visible region) than in the spherical case ( ≈ 0.89). Therefore, for the same effective snow grain size (or equivalently, the same specific projected area), the snow broadband albedo is higher when assuming non-spherical rather than spherical snow grains, typically by 0.02–0.03. Considering the spherical case as the baseline, this results in an instantaneous negative change in net shortwave radiation with a global-mean top-of-the-model value of ca. −0.22 W m−2. Although this global-mean radiative effect is rather modest, the impacts on the climate simulated by NorESM are substantial. The global annual-mean 2 m air temperature in NONSPH is 1.17 K lower than in SPH, with substantially larger differences at high latitudes. The climatic response is amplified by strong snow and sea ice feedbacks. It is further demonstrated that the effect of snow grain shape could be largely offset by adjusting the snow grain size. When assuming non-spherical snow grains with the parameterized grain size increased by ca. 70 %, the climatic differences to the SPH experiment become very small. Finally, the impact of assumed snow grain shape on the radiative effects of absorbing aerosols in snow is discussed.

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    Authors: Kääb, Andreas; Strozzi, Tazio; Bolch, Tobias; Caduff, Rafael; +3 Authors

    Spatio-temporal patterns related to the viscous creep in perennially frozen sediments of rock glaciers in cold mountains have rarely been studied outside the densely populated European Alps. This study investigates the spatial and temporal variability of rock glacier movement in the Ile Alatau and Kungöy Ala-Too mountain ranges, northern Tien Shan, a region with particularly large and fast rock glaciers. Over the study region of more than 3000 km2, an inventory of slope movements was constructed using a large number of radar interferograms and high-resolution optical imagery. The inventory includes more than 900 landforms, of which around 550 were interpreted as rock glaciers. Out of the active rock glaciers inventoried, 45 are characterized by a rate of motion exceeding 100 cm/a. From these fast rock glaciers we selected six (Gorodetzky, Morenny, Archaly, Ordzhonikidze, Karakoram, and Kugalan Tash) and studied them in more detail using offset tracking between repeat aerial images and historical and modern high-resolution optical satellite data. Two of these rock glaciers showed a steady increase in decadal surface velocities from the 1950s onwards, with speeds being roughly 2 to 4 times higher in recent years compared to the 1950s and 1960s. Three rock glaciers showed similar accelerations over the last 1 to 2 decades but also phases of increased speeds in the 1960s. This development indicates a possible significant increase in current sediment and ice fluxes through rock glaciers and implies that their material transport in the region might gain geomorphodynamic importance relative to material transport by glaciers, assuming the latter decreases together with the regional glacier shrinkage. The study demonstrates how air and satellite image archives are exploited to construct one of the longest decennial times series of rock glacier speeds currently available. Our results are in line with findings from Europe about rock glacier speeds increasing with atmospheric warming and underline local variability of such an overall response.

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    Authors: Marzeion, B.; Leclercq, P. W.; Cogley, J. G.; Jarosch, A. H.;

    Recent estimates of the contribution of glaciers to sea-level rise during the 20th century are strongly divergent. Advances in data availability have allowed revisions of some of these published estimates. Here we show that outside of Antarctica, the global estimates of glacier mass change obtained from glacier-length-based reconstructions and from a glacier model driven by gridded climate observations are now consistent with each other, and also with an estimate for the years 2003–2009 that is mostly based on remotely sensed data. This consistency is found throughout the entire common periods of the respective data sets. Inconsistencies of reconstructions and observations persist in estimates on regional scales.

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  • image/svg+xml art designer at PLoS, modified by Wikipedia users Nina, Beao, JakobVoss, and AnonMoos Open Access logo, converted into svg, designed by PLoS. This version with transparent background. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Open_Access_logo_PLoS_white.svg art designer at PLoS, modified by Wikipedia users Nina, Beao, JakobVoss, and AnonMoos http://www.plos.org/
    Authors: Winsvold, Solveig H.; Kääb, Andreas; Nuth, Christopher; Andreassen, Liss M.; +2 Authors

    With dense SAR satellite data time series it is possible to map surface and subsurface glacier properties that vary in time. On Sentinel-1A and RADARSAT-2 backscatter time series images over mainland Norway and Svalbard, we outline how to map glaciers using descriptive methods. We present five application scenarios. The first shows potential for tracking transient snow lines with SAR backscatter time series and correlates with both optical satellite images (Sentinel-2A and Landsat 8) and equilibrium line altitudes derived from in situ surface mass balance data. In the second application scenario, time series representation of glacier facies corresponding to SAR glacier zones shows potential for a more accurate delineation of the zones and how they change in time. The third application scenario investigates the firn evolution using dense SAR backscatter time series together with a coupled energy balance and multilayer firn model. We find strong correlation between backscatter signals with both the modeled firn air content and modeled wetness in the firn. In the fourth application scenario, we highlight how winter rain events can be detected in SAR time series, revealing important information about the area extent of internal accumulation. In the last application scenario, averaged summer SAR images were found to have potential in assisting the process of mapping glaciers outlines, especially in the presence of seasonal snow. Altogether we present examples of how to map glaciers and to further understand glaciological processes using the existing and future massive amount of multi-sensor time series data.

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    Authors: Gilbert, Adrien; Sinisalo, Anna; Gurung, Tika R.; Fujita, Koji; +3 Authors

    In cold and arid climates, small glaciers with cold accumulation zones are often thought to be entirely cold based. However, scattering in ground-penetrating radar (GPR) measurements on the Rikha Samba Glacier in the Nepal Himalayas suggests a large amount of temperate ice that seems to be influenced by the presence of crevassed areas. We used a coupled thermo-mechanical model forced by a firn model accounting for firn heating to interpret the observed thermal regime. Using a simple energy conservation approach, we show that the addition of water percolation and refreezing in crevassed areas explains these observations. Model experiments show that both steady and transient thermal regimes are significantly affected by latent heat release in crevassed areas. This makes half of the glacier base temperate, resulting in an ice dynamic mainly controlled by basal friction instead of ice deformation. The timescale of thermal regime change, in response to atmospheric warming, is also greatly diminished, with a potential switch from cold to temperate basal ice in 50–60 years in the upper part of the glacier instead of the 100–150 years that it would take without the effect of the crevasses. This study highlights the crucial role of water percolation through the crevasses on the thermal regime of glaciers and validates a simple method to account for it in glacier thermo-mechanical models.

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    Authors: Gilbert, Graham L.; Cable, Stefanie; Thiel, Christine; Christiansen, Hanne H.; +1 Authors

    The Zackenberg River delta is located in northeast Greenland (74°30′ N, 20°30′ E) at the outlet of the Zackenberg fjord valley. The fjord-valley fill consists of a series of terraced deltaic deposits (ca. 2 km2) formed during relative sea-level (RSL) fall. We investigated the deposits using sedimentological and cryostratigraphic techniques together with optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating. We identify four facies associations in sections (4 to 22 m in height) exposed along the modern Zackenberg River and coast. Facies associations relate to (I) overriding glaciers, (II) retreating glaciers and quiescent glaciomarine conditions, (III) delta progradation in a fjord valley, and (IV) fluvial activity and niveo-aeolian processes. Pore, layered, and suspended cryofacies are identified in two 20 m deep ice-bonded sediment cores. The cryofacies distribution, together with low overall ground-ice content, indicates that permafrost is predominately epigenetic in these deposits. Fourteen OSL ages constrain the deposition of the cored deposits to between approximately 13 and 11 ka, immediately following deglaciation. The timing of permafrost aggradation was closely related to delta progradation and began following the subaerial exposure of the delta plain (ca. 11 ka). Our results reveal information concerning the interplay between deglaciation, RSL change, sedimentation, permafrost aggradation, and the timing of these events. These findings have implications for the timing and mode of permafrost aggradation in other fjord valleys in northeast Greenland.

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    Authors: Seroussi, Hélène; Nowicki, Sophie; Simon, Erika; Abe-Ouchi, Ayako; +35 Authors

    Ice sheet numerical modeling is an important tool to estimate the dynamic contribution of the Antarctic ice sheet to sea level rise over the coming centuries. The influence of initial conditions on ice sheet model simulations, however, is still unclear. To better understand this influence, an initial state intercomparison exercise (initMIP) has been developed to compare, evaluate, and improve initialization procedures and estimate their impact on century-scale simulations. initMIP is the first set of experiments of the Ice Sheet Model Intercomparison Project for CMIP6 (ISMIP6), which is the primary Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 6 (CMIP6) activity focusing on the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. Following initMIP-Greenland, initMIP-Antarctica has been designed to explore uncertainties associated with model initialization and spin-up and to evaluate the impact of changes in external forcings. Starting from the state of the Antarctic ice sheet at the end of the initialization procedure, three forward experiments are each run for 100 years: a control run, a run with a surface mass balance anomaly, and a run with a basal melting anomaly beneath floating ice. This study presents the results of initMIP-Antarctica from 25 simulations performed by 16 international modeling groups. The submitted results use different initial conditions and initialization methods, as well as ice flow model parameters and reference external forcings. We find a good agreement among model responses to the surface mass balance anomaly but large variations in responses to the basal melting anomaly. These variations can be attributed to differences in the extent of ice shelves and their upstream tributaries, the numerical treatment of grounding line, and the initial ocean conditions applied, suggesting that ongoing efforts to better represent ice shelves in continental-scale models should continue.

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    Authors: Palmtag, Juri; Cable, Stefanie; Christiansen, Hanne H.; Hugelius, Gustaf; +1 Authors

    Soils in the northern high latitudes are a key component in the global carbon cycle, with potential feedback on climate. This study aims to improve the previous soil organic carbon (SOC) and total nitrogen (TN) storage estimates for the Zackenberg area (NE Greenland) that were based on a land cover classification (LCC) approach, by using geomorphological upscaling. In addition, novel organic carbon (OC) estimates for deeper alluvial and deltaic deposits (down to 300 cm depth) are presented. We hypothesise that landforms will better represent the long-term slope and depositional processes that result in deep SOC burial in this type of mountain permafrost environments. The updated mean SOC storage for the 0–100 cm soil depth is 4.8 kg C m−2, which is 42 % lower than the previous estimate of 8.3 kg C m−2 based on land cover upscaling. Similarly, the mean soil TN storage in the 0–100 cm depth decreased with 44 % from 0.50 kg (± 0.1 CI) to 0.28 (±0.1 CI) kg TN m−2. We ascribe the differences to a previous areal overestimate of SOC- and TN-rich vegetated land cover classes. The landform-based approach more correctly constrains the depositional areas in alluvial fans and deltas with high SOC and TN storage. These are also areas of deep carbon storage with an additional 2.4 kg C m−2 in the 100–300 cm depth interval. This research emphasises the need to consider geomorphology when assessing SOC pools in mountain permafrost landscapes.

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    Authors: Treichler, Désirée; Kääb, Andreas; Salzmann, Nadine; Xu, Chong-Yu;

    We present an updated, spatially resolved estimate of 2003–2008 glacier volume changes for entire High Mountain Asia (HMA) from ICESat laser altimetry data. The results reveal a diverse pattern that is driven by spatially greatly varying glacier sensitivity, in particular to precipitation availability and changes. We introduce a spatially resolved zonation where ICESat samples are grouped into units of similar glacier behaviour, glacier type, and topographic settings. In several regions, our new zonation reveals local differences and anomalies that have not been described previously. A step-increase in precipitation around 1997–2000 on the Tibetan Plateau (TP) caused thickening of glaciers in the Eastern Pamirs, Kunlun Shan and central TP by 0.1–0.7 m a−1. The thickening anomaly has a crisp boundary in the Eastern Pamir that continues just north of the central Karakoram. Glaciers in the south and east of the TP were thinning, with increasing rates towards southeast. The precipitation increase is reflected by growth of endorheic lakes in particular in the northern and eastern TP. We estimate lake volume changes through a combination of repeat lake extents from Landsat data and shoreline elevations from ICESat and the SRTM DEM for over 1300 lakes. The rise in water volume contained in the lakes corresponds to 4–25 m a−1, when distributed over entire catchments, for the areas where we see glacier thickening. The precipitation increase is also visible in sparse in-situ measurements and MERRA-2 climate reanalysis data, but less well in ERA Interim reanalysis data. Considering evaporation loss, the difference between average annual precipitation during the 1990s and 2000s suggested by these datasets is 34–100 m a−1, depending on region, which can fully explain both lake growth, and glacier thickening (Kunlun Shan) or glacier geometry changes (eastern TP). The precipitation increase reflected in these glacier changes possibly extended to the northern slopes of the Tarim Basin, where glaciers were nearly in balance in 2003–2008. Along the entire Himalaya, glaciers on the first orographic ridge, which are exposed to abundant precipitation, are thinning less than glaciers in the dryer climate of the inner ranges. Thinning rates in the Tien Shan vary spatially but are rather stronger than in other parts of HMA.

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    Authors: Kääb, Andreas; Strozzi, Tazio; Bolch, Tobias; Caduff, Rafael; +3 Authors

    Spatio-temporal patterns of rock glacier creep have rarely been studied outside the densely populated European Alps. This study investigates the spatial and temporal variability of rock glacier motion in the Ile Alatau and Kungöy Ala-Too mountain ranges, northern Tien Shan. Over the study region of more than 3000 km2, an inventory of slope movements is constructed using a large number of radar interferograms and high-resolution optical imagery. The inventory includes more than 900 landforms, of which around 550 are interpreted as rock glaciers. Out of the active rock glaciers, 45 are characterised by a rate of motion exceeding 1 m/a. From these fast rock glaciers we select six and study them in more detail (Gorodetzky, Morenny, Archaly, Ordzhonikidze, Karakoram and Kugalan Tash rock glaciers) using offset tracking between airphotos, and historical and modern very high resolution optical satellite data. Most of them show an overall increase of decadal surface velocities from the 1950s onwards with speeds being roughly two to three times higher in recent years compared to the 1950s and 1960s. This development indicates a possible significant increase in sediment and ice fluxes through rock glaciers and implies that – when compared to glacier shrinkage – periglacial sediment transport in the region seems to gain importance relative to glacial sediment transport. Those rock glacier fronts reaching the valley floors show a strongly compressive flow regime, and changes in speeds further upstream affect them only in a damped way. The only rock glacier investigated in detail that does not exhibit an overall increase in speed since the 1950s is Gorodetsky where glacier retreat and dead-ice degradation seem to have decoupled the rock glacier from its supply by glacial sediments and ice.

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    Authors: Räisänen, Petri; Makkonen, Risto; Kirkevåg, Alf; Debernard, Jens B.;

    Snow consists of non-spherical grains of various shapes and sizes. Still, in radiative transfer calculations, snow grains are often treated as spherical. This also applies to the computation of snow albedo in the Snow, Ice, and Aerosol Radiation (SNICAR) model and in the Los Alamos sea ice model, version 4 (CICE4), both of which are employed in the Community Earth System Model and in the Norwegian Earth System Model (NorESM). In this study, we evaluate the effect of snow grain shape on climate simulated by NorESM in a slab ocean configuration of the model. An experiment with spherical snow grains (SPH) is compared with another (NONSPH) in which the snow shortwave single-scattering properties are based on a combination of three non-spherical snow grain shapes optimized using measurements of angular scattering by blowing snow. The key difference between these treatments is that the asymmetry parameter is smaller in the non-spherical case (0.77–0.78 in the visible region) than in the spherical case ( ≈ 0.89). Therefore, for the same effective snow grain size (or equivalently, the same specific projected area), the snow broadband albedo is higher when assuming non-spherical rather than spherical snow grains, typically by 0.02–0.03. Considering the spherical case as the baseline, this results in an instantaneous negative change in net shortwave radiation with a global-mean top-of-the-model value of ca. −0.22 W m−2. Although this global-mean radiative effect is rather modest, the impacts on the climate simulated by NorESM are substantial. The global annual-mean 2 m air temperature in NONSPH is 1.17 K lower than in SPH, with substantially larger differences at high latitudes. The climatic response is amplified by strong snow and sea ice feedbacks. It is further demonstrated that the effect of snow grain shape could be largely offset by adjusting the snow grain size. When assuming non-spherical snow grains with the parameterized grain size increased by ca. 70 %, the climatic differences to the SPH experiment become very small. Finally, the impact of assumed snow grain shape on the radiative effects of absorbing aerosols in snow is discussed.

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    Authors: Kääb, Andreas; Strozzi, Tazio; Bolch, Tobias; Caduff, Rafael; +3 Authors

    Spatio-temporal patterns related to the viscous creep in perennially frozen sediments of rock glaciers in cold mountains have rarely been studied outside the densely populated European Alps. This study investigates the spatial and temporal variability of rock glacier movement in the Ile Alatau and Kungöy Ala-Too mountain ranges, northern Tien Shan, a region with particularly large and fast rock glaciers. Over the study region of more than 3000 km2, an inventory of slope movements was constructed using a large number of radar interferograms and high-resolution optical imagery. The inventory includes more than 900 landforms, of which around 550 were interpreted as rock glaciers. Out of the active rock glaciers inventoried, 45 are characterized by a rate of motion exceeding 100 cm/a. From these fast rock glaciers we selected six (Gorodetzky, Morenny, Archaly, Ordzhonikidze, Karakoram, and Kugalan Tash) and studied them in more detail using offset tracking between repeat aerial images and historical and modern high-resolution optical satellite data. Two of these rock glaciers showed a steady increase in decadal surface velocities from the 1950s onwards, with speeds being roughly 2 to 4 times higher in recent years compared to the 1950s and 1960s. Three rock glaciers showed similar accelerations over the last 1 to 2 decades but also phases of increased speeds in the 1960s. This development indicates a possible significant increase in current sediment and ice fluxes through rock glaciers and implies that their material transport in the region might gain geomorphodynamic importance relative to material transport by glaciers, assuming the latter decreases together with the regional glacier shrinkage. The study demonstrates how air and satellite image archives are exploited to construct one of the longest decennial times series of rock glacier speeds currently available. Our results are in line with findings from Europe about rock glacier speeds increasing with atmospheric warming and underline local variability of such an overall response.

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    Authors: Marzeion, B.; Leclercq, P. W.; Cogley, J. G.; Jarosch, A. H.;

    Recent estimates of the contribution of glaciers to sea-level rise during the 20th century are strongly divergent. Advances in data availability have allowed revisions of some of these published estimates. Here we show that outside of Antarctica, the global estimates of glacier mass change obtained from glacier-length-based reconstructions and from a glacier model driven by gridded climate observations are now consistent with each other, and also with an estimate for the years 2003–2009 that is mostly based on remotely sensed data. This consistency is found throughout the entire common periods of the respective data sets. Inconsistencies of reconstructions and observations persist in estimates on regional scales.

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