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Tyler Sutterley

Research Scientist/Engineer - Senior





Department Affiliation

Polar Science Center


B.S. Mechanical Engineering, University of California, San Diego, 2008

M.S. Earth System Science, University of California, Irvine, 2012

Ph.D. Earth System Science, University of California, Irvine, 2016


2000-present and while at APL-UW

Role of snowfall versus air temperatures for Greenland Ice Sheet melt–albedo feedbacks

Ryan, J.C., B. Medley, C.M. Stevens, T.C. Sutterleg, and M.R. Siegfried, "Role of snowfall versus air temperatures for Greenland Ice Sheet melt–albedo feedbacks," Earth Space Sci., 10, doi:10.1029/2023EA003158, 2023.

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27 Nov 2023

The Greenland Ice Sheet is a leading contributor to global sea-level rise because climate warming has enhanced surface meltwater runoff. Melt rates are particularly sensitive to air temperatures due to feedbacks with albedo. The primary melt-albedo feedback, fluctuation of seasonal snowlines, however, is determined not only by melt but also by antecedent snowfall which could delay the onset of dark glacier ice exposure. Here we investigate the role of snowfall versus air temperatures on ice sheet melt–albedo feedbacks using satellite remote sensing and atmospheric reanalysis data. We find several lines of evidence that snowline fluctuations are driven primarily by air temperatures and that snowfall is a secondary control. First, standardized linear regressions indicate that the timing of glacier ice exposure is nearly twice as sensitive to air temperatures than antecedent snowfall. Second, in 74% of the ablation zone by area, winter snowfall rates are not significantly correlated with winter air temperatures. This relationship implies that ice sheet melt due to climate warming is unlikely to be compensated by higher snowfall rates in the ablation zone. Third, we find no significant change in snowfall rates in the ablation zone during our 1981–2021 study period. Our findings demonstrate that snowfall is unlikely to reduce future ice sheet melt and that ice sheet meltwater runoff should be accurately predicted by air temperatures. Although given the importance of melt-albedo feedbacks, ice sheet models that parameterize albedo or are coupled with regional climate models are likely to provide the most accurate projections of mass loss.

Mass balance of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets from 1992 to 2020

Otosaka, I.N., and 67 others including I. Joughin, M.D. King, B.E. Smith, and T.C. Sutterley, "Mass balance of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets from 1992 to 2020," Earth Syst. Sci. Data, 15, 1297-1616, doi:10.5194/essd-15-1597-2023, 2023.

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20 Apr 2023

Ice losses from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have accelerated since the 1990s, accounting for a significant increase in the global mean sea level. Here, we present a new 29-year record of ice sheet mass balance from 1992 to 2020 from the Ice Sheet Mass Balance Inter-comparison Exercise (IMBIE). We compare and combine 50 independent estimates of ice sheet mass balance derived from satellite observations of temporal changes in ice sheet flow, in ice sheet volume, and in Earth's gravity field. Between 1992 and 2020, the ice sheets contributed 21.0±1.9 mm to global mean sea level, with the rate of mass loss rising from 105 Gt yr−1 between 1992 and 1996 to 372 Gt yr−1 between 2016 and 2020. In Greenland, the rate of mass loss is 169±9 Gt yr−1 between 1992 and 2020, but there are large inter-annual variations in mass balance, with mass loss ranging from 86 Gt yr−1 in 2017 to 444 Gt yr−1 in 2019 due to large variability in surface mass balance. In Antarctica, ice losses continue to be dominated by mass loss from West Antarctica (82±9 Gt yr−1) and, to a lesser extent, from the Antarctic Peninsula (13±5 Gt yr−1). East Antarctica remains close to a state of balance, with a small gain of 3±15 Gt yr−1, but is the most uncertain component of Antarctica's mass balance.

Evaluating Greenland surface-mass-balance and firn-densification data using ICESat-2 altimetry

Smith, B.E., B. Medley, X. Fettweis, T. Sutterley, P. Alexander, D. Porter, and M. Tedesco, "Evaluating Greenland surface-mass-balance and firn-densification data using ICESat-2 altimetry," Cryosphere, 17, 789-808, doi:10.5194/tc-17-789-2023, 2023.

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16 Feb 2023

Surface-mass-balance (SMB) and firn-densification (FD) models are widely used in altimetry studies as a tool to separate atmospheric-driven from ice-dynamics-driven ice-sheet mass changes and to partition observed volume changes into ice-mass changes and firn-air-content changes. Until now, SMB models have been principally validated based on comparison with ice core and weather station data or comparison with widely separated flight radar-survey flight lines. Firn-densification models have been primarily validated based on their ability to match net densification over decades, as recorded in firn cores, and the short-term time-dependent component of densification has rarely been evaluated at all. The advent of systematic ice-sheet-wide repeated ice-surface-height measurements from ICESat-2 (the Ice Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite, 2) allows us to measure the net surface-height change of the Greenland ice sheet at quarterly resolution and compare the measured surface-height differences directly with those predicted by three FD–SMB models: MARv3.5.11 and GSFCv1.1 and GSFCv1.2. By segregating the data by season and elevation, and based on the timing and magnitude of modelled processes in areas where we expect minimal ice-dynamics-driven height changes, we investigate the models' accuracy in predicting atmospherically driven height changes. We find that while all three models do well in predicting the large seasonal changes in the low-elevation parts of the ice sheet where melt rates are highest, two of the models (MARv3.5.11 and GSFCv1.1) systematically overpredict, by around a factor of 2, the magnitude of height changes in the high-elevation parts of the ice sheet, particularly those associated with melt events. This overprediction seems to be associated with the melt sensitivity of the models in the high-elevation part of the ice sheet. The third model, GSFCv1.2, which has an updated high-elevation melt parameterization, avoids this overprediction.

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Acoustics Air-Sea Interaction & Remote Sensing Center for Environmental & Information Systems Center for Industrial & Medical Ultrasound Electronic & Photonic Systems Ocean Engineering Ocean Physics Polar Science Center