An ice flow modeling perspective on bedrock adjustment patterns of the Greenland ice sheet

M. Olaizola*, R. S.W. Van De Wal, M. M. Helsen, B. De Boer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


Since the launch in 2002 of the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites, several estimates of the mass balance of the Greenland ice sheet (GrIS) have been produced. To obtain ice mass changes, the GRACE data need to be corrected for the effect of deformation changes of the Earth's crust. Recently, a new method has been proposed where ice mass changes and bedrock changes are simultaneously solved. Results show bedrock subsidence over almost the entirety of Greenland in combination with ice mass loss which is only half of the currently standing estimates. This subsidence can be an elastic response, but it may however also be a delayed response to past changes. In this study we test whether these subsidence patterns are consistent with ice dynamical modeling results. We use a 3-D ice sheet-bedrock model with a surface mass balance forcing based on a mass balance gradient approach to study the pattern and magnitude of bedrock changes in Greenland. Different mass balance forcings are used. Simulations since the Last Glacial Maximum yield a bedrock delay with respect to the mass balance forcing of nearly 3000 yr and an average uplift at present of 0.3 mm yr-1. The spatial pattern of bedrock changes shows a small central subsidence as well as more intense uplift in the south. These results are not compatible with the gravity based reconstructions showing a subsidence with a maximum in central Greenland, thereby questioning whether the claim of halving of the ice mass change is justified.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1263-1274
Number of pages12
JournalThe Cryosphere
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2012


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