Robinson, Alexander James

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First Name
Alexander James
Last Name
Universidad Complutense de Madrid
Faculty / Institute
Ciencias Físicas
Física de la Tierra y Astrofísica
UCM identifierORCIDScopus Author IDDialnet IDGoogle Scholar ID

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Now showing 1 - 10 of 25
  • Publication
    Description and validation of the ice-sheet model Yelmo (version 1.0)
    (Copernicus Gesellschaft MBH, 2020-06-24) Robinson, Alexander James; Álvarez Solas, Jorge; Montoya Redondo, María Luisa; Goelzer, Heiko; Greve, Ralf; Ritz, Catherine
    We describe the physics and features of the icesheet model Yelmo, an open-source project intended for collaborative development. Yelmo is a thermomechanical model, solving for the coupled velocity and temperature solutions of an ice sheet simultaneously. The ice dynamics are currently treated via a “hybrid” approach combining the shallow-ice and shallow-shelf/shelfy-stream approximations, which makes Yelmo an apt choice for studying a wide variety of problems. Yelmo’s main innovations lie in its flexible and user-friendly infrastructure, which promotes portability and facilitates long-term development. In particular, all physics subroutines have been designed to be self-contained, so that they can be easily ported from Yelmo to other models, or easily replaced by improved or alternate methods in the future. Furthermore, hard-coded model choices are eschewed, replaced instead with convenient parameter options that allow the model to be adapted easily to different contexts. We show results for different ice-sheet benchmark tests, and we illustrate Yelmo’s performance for the Antarctic ice sheet.
  • Publication
    Exceptional twentieth-century slowdown in Atlantic Ocean overturning circulation
    (Nature Publishing Group, 2015-05) Rahmstorf, Stefan; Box, Jason E.; Feulner, Georg; Mann, Michael E.; Robinson, Alexander James; Rutherford, Scott; Schaffernicht, Erik J.
    Possible changes in Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) provide a key source of uncertainty regarding future climate change. Maps of temperature trends over the twentieth century show a conspicuous region of cooling in the northern Atlantic. Here we present multiple lines of evidence suggesting that this cooling may be due to a reduction in the AMOC over the twentieth century and particularly after 1970. Since 1990 the AMOC seems to have partly recovered. This time evolution is consistently suggested by an AMOC index based on sea surface temperatures, by the hemispheric temperature difference, by coral-based proxies and by oceanic measurements. We discuss a possible contribution of the melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet to the slowdown. Using a multi-proxy temperature reconstruction for the AMOC index suggests that the AMOC weakness after 1975 is an unprecedented event in the past millennium (p > 0.99). Further melting of Greenland in the coming decades could contribute to further weakening of the AMOC.
  • Publication
    The sensitivity of the Greenland Ice Sheet to glacial-interglacial oceanic forcing
    (Copernicus Gesellschaft MBH, 2018-04-09) Tabone, Ilaria; Blasco, Javier; Robinson, Alexander James; Álvarez Solas, Jorge; Montoya Redondo, María Luisa
    Observations suggest that during the last decades the Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS) has experienced a gradually accelerating mass loss, in part due to the observed speed-up of several of Greenland's marine-terminating glaciers. Recent studies directly attribute this to warming North Atlantic temperatures, which have triggered melting of the outlet glaciers of the GrIS, grounding-line retreat and enhanced ice discharge into the ocean, contributing to an acceleration of sea-level rise. Reconstructions suggest that the influence of the ocean has been of primary importance in the past as well. This was the case not only in interglacial periods, when warmer climates led to a rapid retreat of the GrIS to land above sea level, but also in glacial periods, when the GrIS expanded as far as the continental shelf break and was thus more directly exposed to oceanic changes. However, the GrIS response to palaeo-oceanic variations has yet to be investigated in detail from a mechanistic modelling perspective. In this work, the evolution of the GrIS over the past two glacial cycles is studied using a three-dimensional hybrid ice-sheet-shelf model. We assess the effect of the variation of oceanic temperatures on the GrIS evolution on glacial-interglacial timescales through changes in submarine melting. The results show a very high sensitivity of the GrIS to changing oceanic conditions. Oceanic forcing is found to be a primary driver of GrIS expansion in glacial times and of retreat in interglacial periods. If switched off, palaeo-atmospheric variations alone are not able to yield a reliable glacial configuration of the GrIS. This work therefore suggests that considering the ocean as an active forcing should become standard practice in palaeo-ice-sheet modelling.
  • Publication
    NCIO 1.0: a simple Fortran NetCDF interface
    (Copernicus Gesellschaft MBH, 2015) Robinson, Alexander James; Perrette, M.
    The NetCDF (Network Common Data Form) library has become an indispensable tool for data and model output management in geoscience. However for simple tasks, particularly in Fortran, the complexity of native NetCDF functionality can be cumbersome. The NCIO (NetCDF Input/Output) module has been designed as an interface to the NetCDF library with simplicity and ease of use in mind. While this implies that some NetCDF functionality is masked from the user, the subroutines provided here are adequate for basic serial reading and writing tasks of up to 6-D data arrays along with corresponding data attributes. The code is available online via a GitHub repository (, which includes an example program to illustrate the approach.
  • Publication
    Shape coexistence in the neutron-deficient even-even Hg^(182-188) isotopes studied via Coulomb excitation
    (Amer Physical Soc, 2014-04-23) Fraile Prieto, Luis Mario; Robinson, Alexander James
    Coulomb-excitation experiments to study electromagnetic properties of radioactive even-even Hg isotopes were performed with 2.85 MeV=nucleon mercury beams from REX-ISOLDE. Magnitudes and relative signs of the reduced E2 matrix elements that couple the ground state and low-lying excited states in ^(182−188)Hg were extracted. Information on the deformation of the ground and the first excited 0þ states was deduced using the quadrupole sum rules approach. Results show that the ground state is slightly deformed and of oblate nature, while a larger deformation for the excited 0þ state was noted in ^(182;184)Hg. The results are compared to beyond mean field and interacting-boson based models and interpreted within a two-state mixing model. Partial agreement with the model calculations was obtained. The presence of two different structures in the light even-mass mercury isotopes that coexist at low excitation energy is firmly established.
  • Publication
    MIS-11 duration key to disappearance of the Greenland ice sheet
    (Nature Publishing Group, 2017-07-06) Robinson, Alexander James; Álvarez Solas, Jorge; Calov, Reinhard; Ganopolski, Andrey; Montoya Redondo, María Luisa
    Palaeo data suggest that Greenland must have been largely ice free during Marine Isotope Stage 11 (MIS-11). However, regional summer insolation anomalies were modest during this time compared to MIS-5e, when the Greenland ice sheet likely lost less volume. Thus it remains unclear how such conditions led to an almost complete disappearance of the ice sheet. Here we use transient climate-ice sheet simulations to simultaneously constrain estimates of regional temperature anomalies and Greenland's contribution to the MIS-11 sea-level highstand. We find that Greenland contributed 6.1m (3.9-7.0 m, 95% credible interval) to sea level, similar to 7 kyr after the peak in regional summer temperature anomalies of 2.8 degrees C (2.1-3.4 degrees C). The moderate warming produced a mean rate of mass loss in sea-level equivalent of only around 0.4m per kyr, which means the long duration of MIS-11 interglacial conditions around Greenland was a necessary condition for the ice sheet to disappear almost completely.
  • Publication
    Submarine melt as a potential trigger of the North East Greenland Ice Stream margin retreat during Marine Isotope Stage 3
    (Copernicus Gesellschaft MBH, 2019-07-15) Tabone, Ilaria; Robinson, Alexander James; Álvarez Solas, Jorge; Montoya Redondo, María Luisa
    The Northeast Greenland Ice Stream (NEGIS) has been suffering a significant ice mass loss during the last decades. This is partly due to increasing oceanic temperatures in the subpolar North Atlantic, which enhance submarine basal melting and mass discharge. This demonstrates the high sensitivity of this region to oceanic changes. In addition, a recent study suggested that the NEGIS grounding line was 20–40 km behind its present-day location for 15 ka during Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 3. This is in contrast with Greenland temperature records indicating cold atmospheric conditions at that time, expected to favour ice-sheet expansion. To explain this anomalous retreat a combination of atmospheric and external forcings has been invoked. Yet, as the ocean is found to be a primary driver of the ongoing retreat of the NEGIS glaciers, the effect of past oceanic changes in their paleo evolution cannot be ruled out and should be explored in detail. Here we investigate the sensitivity of the NEGIS to the oceanic forcing during the last glacial period using a three-dimensional hybrid ice-sheet–shelf model. We find that a sufficiently high oceanic forcing could account for a NEGIS ice-margin retreat of several tens of kilometres, potentially explaining the recently proposed NEGIS groundingline retreat during Marine Isotope Stage 3.
  • Publication
    Reconstructing the last interglacial at Summit, Greenland: Insights from GISP2
    (National Academy of Sciences, 2016-08-30) Yau, Audrey M.; Bender, Michael L.; Robinson, Alexander James; Brook, Edward J.
    The Eemian (last interglacial, 130-115 ka) was likely the warmest of all interglacials of the last 800 ka, with summer Arctic temperatures 3-5 degrees C above present. Here, we present improved Eemian climate records from central Greenland, reconstructed from the base of the Greenland Ice Sheet Project 2 (GISP2) ice core. Our record comes from clean, stratigraphically disturbed, and isotopically warm ice from 2,750 to 3,040 m depth. The age of this ice is constrained by measuring CH_4 and delta O^18 of O_2, and comparing with the historical record of these properties from the North Greenland Ice Core Project (NGRIP) and North Greenland Eemian Ice Drilling (NEEM) ice cores. The d^18 O_ice, d^15N of N_2, and total air content for samples dating discontinuously from 128 to 115 ka indicate a warming of similar to 6 degrees C between 127-121 ka, and a similar elevation history between GISP2 and NEEM. The reconstructed climate and elevation histories are compared with an ensemble of coupled climate-ice-sheet model simulations of the Greenland ice sheet. Those most consistent with the reconstructed temperatures indicate that the Greenland ice sheet contributed 5.1 m (4.1-6.2 m, 95% credible interval) to global eustatic sea level toward the end of the Eemian. Greenland likely did not contribute to anomalously high sea levels at ~127 ka, or to a rapid jump in sea level at ~120 ka. However, several unexplained discrepancies remain between the inferred and simulated histories of temperature and accumulation rate at GISP2 and NEEM, as well as between the climatic reconstructions themselves.
  • Publication
    SEMIC: an efficient surface energy and mass balance model applied to the Greenland ice sheet
    (Copernicus Gesellschaft MBH, 2017-07-03) Krapp, Mario; Robinson, Alexander James; Ganopolski, Andrey
    We present SEMIC, a Surface Energy and Mass balance model of Intermediate Complexity for snow-and ice-covered surfaces such as the Greenland ice sheet. SEMIC is fast enough for glacial cycle applications, making it a suitable replacement for simpler methods such as the positive degree day (PDD) method often used in ice sheet modelling. Our model explicitly calculates the main processes involved in the surface energy and mass balance, while maintaining a simple interface and requiring minimal data input to drive it. In this novel approach, we parameterise diurnal temperature variations in order to more realistically capture the daily thaw-freeze cycles that characterise the ice sheet mass balance. We show how to derive optimal model parameters for SEMIC specifically to reproduce surface characteristics and day-to-day variations similar to the regional climate model MAR (Modele Atmospherique Regional, version 2) and its incorporated multilayer snowpack model SISVAT (Soil Ice Snow Vegetation Atmosphere Transfer). A validation test shows that SEMIC simulates future changes in surface temperature and surface mass balance in good agreement with the more sophisticated multilayer snowpack model SISVAT included in MAR. With this paper, we present a physically based surface model to the ice sheet modelling community that is general enough to be used with in situ observations, climate model, or reanalysis data, and that is at the same time computationally fast enough for long-term integrations, such as glacial cycles or future climate change scenarios.
  • Publication
    Challenges and research priorities to understand interactions between climate, ice sheets and global mean sea level during past interglacials
    (Pergamon-Elsevier Science Ltd, 2019-09-01) Robinson, Alexander James
    Quaternary interglacials provide key observations of the Earth system's responses to orbital and greenhouse gas forcing. They also inform on the capabilities of Earth system models, used for projecting the polar ice-sheet and sea-level responses to a regional warmth comparable to that expected by 2100 C.E. However, a number of uncertainties remain regarding the processes and feedbacks linking climate, ice-sheet and sea-level changes during past warm intervals. Here, we delineate the major research questions that need to be resolved and future research directions that should be taken by the paleoclimate, sea-level and ice-sheet research communities in order to increase confidence in the use of past interglacial climate, ice-sheet and sea-level reconstructions to constrain future predictions. These questions were formulated during a joint workshop held by the PAGES-INQUA PALSEA (PALeo constraints on SEA level rise) and the PAGES-PMIP QUIGS (QUaternary InterGlacialS) Working Groups in September 2018.