Work Packages

work packages

Work Package 1 – Ice2sea Management

The role of the management is to facilitate the science and remove as many management tasks from the project scientists as possible, maximizing their ability to focus on scientific deliverables. At the same time the management group, the ice2sea Programme Office, will provide an appropriate level of performance monitoring to highlight early on any difficulties and potential obstacles to timely competition of Deliverables, to the ice2sea Steering Committee, and to the Commission.

Sub-Work Packages:

  • WP 1.1 Programme Management
  • WP 1.2 Stakeholder Review
  • WP 1.3 External Communications
  • WP 1.4 Financial Management

Work Package 2 - Key Glacial Processes

The aim of this work package is to specifically increase the knowledge on key cryospheric processes and their interactions, to understand the physics involved and to improve their representation in numerical ice-sheet models. We will address each of those key uncertainties that currently limit our ability to understand the current changes we can see occurring in glaciers and ice sheets, and thus our ability predict the future behaviour of continental ice.

See ULB’s web pages on grounding line migration in ice sheet models.

The rationale for this group of sub-work packages stems from the present-day uncertainties that arise in predictions of the cryospheric contribution to future sea-level rise. Here we explicitly address surface mass balance and ice-dynamical processes related to ice flow not properly included in current models but suggested by recent observations, and which could increase the vulnerability of the ice sheets and ice caps to warming, increasing future sea-level rise. Understanding of these processes is limited at present and there is currently no consensus on their magnitude, but with clearly directed and focussed studies we will make an important contribution.

Sub-Work Packages:

  • WP2.1 Migration of Grounding lines and stress transmission
  • WP2.2 Basal lubrication by surface melt
  • WP2.3 Tidewater glacier calving and ice-ocean interaction
  • WP2.4 Surface mass balance uncertainties

This work package aims at filling this gap by investigating key areas where description of such essential processes can be improved rapidly. A close interaction is envisaged with model development so as to improve the representation of these processes in large-scale models for prediction.

Work Package 3 –  Foundation and Validation Data

The overall aim of this work package is to provide the basic observational data for building and validating the glaciological models applied in WP2 (Key glacial processes) and WP5 (Projection of glacial change). This aim will to a large extent be accomplished by building on existing remote sensing and field programmes, with a focus on making these datasets available for and useful to the modelling efforts in the project. New data collection activities will be supported to fill crucial data gaps. The decadal time scale (satellite era) will be the main focus, with the important exception of the ice sheet accumulation, which will be on a centennial time scale through an analysis of existing and new ice cores.

Sub-Work Packages:

  • WP3.1 Past and recent accumulation on ice sheets (from ice cores)
  • WP3.2 Mass balance time series for the ice sheets (from climate reanalyses and satellite records)
  • WP3.3 Inventories of glaciers and ice caps (base data and change measurements)
  • WP3.4 Sensitivity to change in near-polar ice caps (base data and change measurements)

A large number of programmes have been initiated to collect data useful for building and validating models. These include IPY activities, dedicated cryospheric satellite missions such as GRACE, Cryosat, ICEsat and ASTER, national field programmes and ESA/NASA projects. The present work package makes full use of these through key partnerships, with the added value of assimilating the datasets for model predictions.

Work Package 4 – Projection of Climate Forcing

The aim of this work package is to provide a range of surface climate change projections, ice surface (atmosphere) and ice shelf basal (ocean) mass fluxes for ice sheet models developed and applied in WP5 (Projection of glacial change). A secondary aim is to assess the impact of changed ice shelf geometry on ocean dynamics and basal mass fluxes, and of changed ice-sheet topography and extent on surface mass fluxes. The emphasis will be on considering atmospheric and oceanic outputs related to IPCC scenarios from different coupled global climate models to provide a range of forcing fields for regional (meso-scale) atmosphere and ocean models and thus deliver mass flux boundary conditions for ice sheet models (W5.2) and glacier and ice cap models (W5.3). This is the first time that output from these models will be optimised for the purposes of driving ice-response models, and so represents a substantial step forward.

Sub-Work Packages:

  • WP4.1 Preparation of climate driver data
  • WP4.2 High-resolution atmosphere models
  • WP4.3 High-resolution ocean models

These sub-work packages will benefit from key process studies in WP2 leading to model improvements (e.g., improvement in surface mass balance simulation, grounding line migration, melting and iceberg calving). They will provide the surface and basal mass fluxes resulting from regional atmosphere/ocean models for WP5.2 and WP5.3.

Finally, these sub-work packages will use modelled ice-shelf geometries from WP5.2 to generate new sub-ice shelf domain for the additional ocean simulations to see how the oceans are affected by changing ice sheets. And similarly they will use modelled ice-sheet topographies from WP5 to evaluate the feedback on surface mass balance in regional atmosphere models.

Work Package 5 – Projection of Glacial Change

This work package will predict the global contribution of glaciers, ice caps and ice sheets to future sea level over the next 200 years, and beyond will identify thresholds that commit us to longer term sea-level rise. The work package will focus on glaciers, ice caps, Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. The effort will include rigorous inter-comparison of different ice models, which will provide estimates of uncertainty.

Sub-Work Packages:

  • WP5.1 Model intercomparison (this intercomparison effort will include core ice2sea modelling groups but will support the involvement of other non-ice2sea groups)
  • WP5.2 Ice sheet modelling
  • WP5.3 Ice cap and glacier modelling

The emphasis will be on intercomparison of different ice-response models and their predictions, which will provide estimates of uncertainty (including that arising from ice-response, from coupling to other elements of the Earth system, and from uncertainty in the forcing).

The work package interacts in the following ways with other work packages.

  • It will benefit from the improved process understanding generated in WP2 and lead to better parameterizations of specific key processes (e.g., calving, basal lubrication, grounding-line migration and surface mass balance).
  • It will employ information on regional climate forcing from WP4.2 and 4.3. For ice sheets, this forcing is likely to come from high-resolution atmosphere (WP4.2) and ocean models (WP4.3); for global glaciers and ice caps, statistical downscaling will be required. In all cases, a full range of scenarios will be employed varying in the degree of global climate perturbation.
  • It will employ validation data sets generated in WP3 including satellite observations of ice mass balance (both surface mass balance and changing ice fluxes) and glacier change measurements.
  • It will provide regionalised estimates of the ice mass contribution to the oceans for determination of regional sea-level change in WP6.1 and WP6.2

The modelling work in WPs 5.2, 5.3 and 5.4 will primarily concern the impact of climate on ice masses and avoid the complexity of full coupling within atmosphere-ocean-ice climate models. This approach is completely justifiable for ice caps and glaciers, where the expected impact of ice loss on climate is minimal, however stronger interaction is to be expected between changing ice geometry and regional climate in Greenland and changing ice-shelf geometry and sub-shelf ocean circulation in Antarctica. The structure of the ice-sheet intercomparison will address this issue in that a number of groups will be assigned to each ice sheet; while the basic mass-balance forcing provided by WPs 4.2, 4.3 will provide a key element of this work, some individual groups will have access to fully-coupled climate models and will be able to assess the consequences of omitting the interactions mentioned above.

Work Package 6 – Synethsis and Dissemination

The aim of this work package is to integrate the results from, primarily, WPs 5.2 and5.3 to produce new projections of regional sea-level rise that are the most comprehensive yet, but also to incorporate general lessons learned in W2 (Key glacial processes) concerning the possibility of extreme events. This WP is also responsible for co-ordinating the delivery of the key results to policy-makers, the synthesis and framing of uncertainties, and training and education within ice2sea.

There will be two types of scientific task in this work package. The first will be to integrate the results from other work packages into an ensemble and investigate the uncertainty implied by this ensemble. This will produce information suitable for risk assessment of impacts. The second type of task will focus on the most severe projections from W5.2 in order to produce a physically plausible upper bound on sea level rise. The degree to which the international science community accept the validity and completeness of these projections will be investigated through an expert elicitation (W6.3).

To make the output of this project most useful for coastal planners and engineers we will also assess the potential impact on the European coastline, applying the most significant geoid and solid earth corrections. Since the most severe damage is often associated with extreme flooding events we will estimate the reduction in the return period of the 100-year storm surge.

Sub-work packages

  • • WP6.1 Integration and uncertainty analysis
  • • WP6.2 Regional sea level estimation
  • • WP6.3 Expert judgement eliciation


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