Global climate models abound. What is harder to pin down, however, is how a warmer global temperature might affect any specific region on Earth.
Dr. Marco Tedesco, associate professor of earth and atmospheric sciences at The City College of New York, and a colleague have made the global local. Using a regional climate model and the output of three global climate models, they can predict how different greenhouse gas scenarios would change the face of Greenland over the next century and how this would impact sea level rise.
The resulting fine-scale model gives a high-resolution picture of the island's future. ''We put Greenland under a microscope to see what accounts for melting and for ice mass changes in different regions,'' said Professor Tedesco.
He and his colleague, Xavier Fettweis of the University of Liege, Belgium, reported their results online 8 November in Environmental Research Letters.
They compared two possible future CO2 scenarios: a concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere projected for the end of the century of 850 parts per million (ppm) versus a more aggressive projection of 1370 ppm. The first approximates the current rate of increase.
The Greenland ice sheet would lose more ice and snow to melting than it would accumulate in both scenarios. Basins on the southwest and north coasts would suffer the greatest losses.