Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

The Cryosphere










We evaluate modelled Antarctic ice sheet (AIS) near-surface climate, surface mass balance (SMB) and surface energy balance (SEB) from the updated polar version of the regional atmospheric climate model, RACMO2 (1979–2016). The updated model, referred to as RACMO2.3p2, incorporates upper-air relaxation, a revised topography, tuned parameters in the cloud scheme to generate more precipitation towards the AIS interior and modified snow properties reducing drifting snow sublimation and increasing surface snowmelt.Comparisons of RACMO2 model output with several independent observational data show that the existing biases in AIS temperature, radiative fluxes and SMB components are further reduced with respect to the previous model version. The model-integrated annual average SMB for the ice sheet including ice shelves (minus the Antarctic Peninsula, AP) now amounts to 2229 Gt y−1, with an interannual variability of 109 Gt y−1. The largest improvement is found in modelled surface snowmelt, which now compares well with satellite and weather station observations. For the high-resolution ( ∼  5.5 km) AP simulation, results remain comparable to earlier studies.The updated model provides a new, high-resolution data set of the contemporary near-surface climate and SMB of the AIS; this model version will be used for future climate scenario projections in a forthcoming study.


Jan Melchior van Wessem1, Willem Jan van de Berg1, Brice P. Y. Noël1,Erik van Meijgaard2, Charles Amory3, Gerit Birnbaum4, Constantijn L. Jakobs1,Konstantin Krüger4, Jan T. M. Lenaerts5, Stef Lhermitte6, Stefan R. M. Ligtenberg1,Brooke Medley7, Carleen H. Reijmer1, Kristof van Tricht8, Luke D. Trusel9,Lambertus H. van Ulft2, Bert Wouters1, Jan Wuite10, and Michiel R. van den Broeke1

1Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research Utrecht, Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands
2Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute, De Bilt, the Netherlands
3Department of Geography, University of Liege, Liege, Belgium
4Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Bremerhaven, Germany
5Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder CO, USA
6Department of Geoscience and Remote Sensing, Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands
7Cryospheric Sciences Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, USA
8KU Leuven, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Leuven, Belgium
9Department of Geology, Rowan University, Glassboro, New Jersey, USA
10ENVEO IT GmbH, Innsbruck, Austria

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.