Mass balance of the greenland ice sheet from GRACE and surface mass balance modelling

Fang Zou, Robert Tenzer, Hok Sum Fok, Janet E. Nichol

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


The Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS) is losing mass at a rate that represents a major contribution to global sea-level rise in recent decades. In this study, we use the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) data to retrieve the time series variations of the GrIS from April 2002 to June 2017. We also estimate the mass balance from the RACMO2.3 and ice discharge data in order to obtain a comparative analysis and cross-validation. A detailed analysis of long-term trend and seasonal and inter-annual changes in the GrIS is implemented by GRACE and surface mass balance (SMB) modeling. The results indicate a decrease of 267.77 8.68 Gt/yr of the GrIS over the 16-year period. There is a rapid decline from 2002 to 2008, which accelerated from 2009 to 2012 before declining relatively slowly from 2013 to 2017. The mass change inland is significantly smaller than that detected along coastal regions, especially in the southeastern, southwestern, and northwestern regions. The mass balance estimates from GRACE and SMB minus ice discharge (SMB-D) are very consistent. The ice discharge manifests itself mostly as a long-term trend, whereas seasonal mass variations are largely attributed to surface mass processes. The GrIS mass changes are mostly attributed to mass loss during summer. Summer mass changes are highly correlated with climate changes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1847
JournalWater (Switzerland)
Issue number7
Early online date28 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2020


  • Climate change
  • Glacier melting
  • Greenland
  • SMB

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Aquatic Science
  • Water Science and Technology


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