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Accelerating mass loss of Greenland: firn and the shifting runoff limit

Total Cost €


EC-Contrib. €






Project "CASSANDRA" data sheet

The following table provides information about the project.


Organization address
address: AVENUE DE L EUROPE 20
postcode: 1700

contact info
title: n.a.
name: n.a.
surname: n.a.
function: n.a.
email: n.a.
telephone: n.a.
fax: n.a.

 Coordinator Country Switzerland [CH]
 Total cost 1˙989˙181 €
 EC max contribution 1˙989˙181 € (100%)
 Programme 1. H2020-EU.1.1. (EXCELLENT SCIENCE - European Research Council (ERC))
 Code Call ERC-2018-COG
 Funding Scheme ERC-COG
 Starting year 2019
 Duration (year-month-day) from 2019-05-01   to  2024-04-30


Take a look of project's partnership.

# participants  country  role  EC contrib. [€] 
1    UNIVERSITE DE FRIBOURG CH (FRIBOURG) coordinator 1˙989˙181.00


 Project objective

Meltwater running off the flanks of the Greenland ice sheet contributes roughly 60% to its mass loss, the rest being due to calving. Only meltwater originating from below the elevation of the runoff limit leaves the ice sheet, contributing to mass loss; melt at higher elevations refreezes in the porous firn and does not drive mass loss. Therefore any shift in the runoff limit modifies mass loss and subsequent sea level rise. New evidence shows surface runoff at increasingly high elevations, outpacing the rate at which the equilibrium line elevation rises. This research proposal focuses on the runoff limit as a powerful yet poorly understood modulator of Greenland mass balance. We will track the runoff limit over the full satellite era using two of the largest and oldest remote sensing archives, Landsat and the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR). We will establish time series of the runoff limit for all regions of Greenland to identify the mechanisms driving fluctuations in the runoff limit. This newly gained process understanding and a wealth of in-situ measurements will then be used to build firn hydrology models capable of simulating runoff and the associated runoff limit over time. Eventually, the firn hydrology models will be applied to reconcile estimates of Greenland past, present and future mass balance. Covering the entire satellite era and all of Greenland, the focus on the runoff limit will constitute a paradigm shift leading to major advance in our understanding of how vulnerable the surface of the ice sheet reacts to climate change and how the changing surface impacts runoff and thus Greenland's role in the global sea level budget.

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The information about "CASSANDRA" are provided by the European Opendata Portal: CORDIS opendata.

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