Polar MM5, a mesoscale atmospheric model optimized for use over polar ice sheets, is employed to simulate Antarctic accumulation in recent decades. Two sets of simulations, each with different initial and boundary conditions, are evaluated for the 17 yr period spanning 1985–2001. The initial and boundary conditions for the two sets of runs are provided by the (i) European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts 40 year Reanalysis, and (ii) National Centres for Environmental Prediction—Department of Energy Atmospheric Model Intercomparison Project Reanalysis II. This approach is used so that uncertainty can be assessed by comparing the two resulting datasets.
There is broad agreement between the two datasets for the annual precipitation trends for 1985–2001. These generally agree with ice core and snow stake accumulation records at various locations around the continent, indicating broad areas of both upward and downward trends. Averaged over the continent the annual trends are small and not statistically different from zero, suggesting that recent Antarctic snowfall changes do not mitigate current sea-level rise. However, this result does not suggest that Antarctica is isolated from the recent climate changes occurring elsewhere on Earth. Rather, these are expressed by strong seasonal and regional precipitation changes.
One contribution of 14 to a Discussion Meeting Issue ‘Evolution of the Antarctic Ice Sheet: new understanding and challenges’.
- © 2006 The Royal Society