Implications of changes in freshwater flux from the Greenland ice sheet for the climate of the 21st century

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Abstract

[1] Two simulations of the 21st century climate have been carried out using, on the one hand, a coarse resolution climate general circulation model and, on the other hand, the same model coupled to a comprehensive model of the Greenland ice sheet. Both simulations display a gradual global warming up to 2080. In the experiment that includes an interactive ice sheet component, a strong and abrupt weakening of the North Atlantic thermohaline circulation occurs at the end of the 21st century. This feature is triggered by an enhanced freshwater input arising mainly from a partial melting of the Greenland ice sheet. As a consequence of the circulation decline, a marked cooling takes place over eastern Greenland and the northern North Atlantic. This result underlines the potential role of the Greenland ice sheet in the evolution of climate over the 21st century.

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