The 2013 Arne Richter Award for Outstanding Young Scientists is awarded to Xavier Fettweis for fundamental contributions in understanding and quantifying the current and future surface mass balance of the Greenland ice sheet.
Xavier Fettweis has made important contribution to the understanding of the Greenland ice sheet with the help of regional modelling. Since the start of his PhD in 2001, he adapted and improved the regional climate model MAR (Modèle Atmosphérique Régional) for studying the surface mass balance (SMB) of the Greenland ice sheet. By inter-comparing the melt extent derived from microwave satellite with that simulated by his model, he improved melt detection and showed that the recent melt rates (2007-2011) are unprecedented in the last 50 years. By merging results from the MAR model to a circulation-type classification, he highlighted the important role of the general atmospheric circulation in the recent melt records and linked them to the North Atlantic Oscillation variability.
Over the past few years, his MAR-based simulations have been recognised as a reference for explaining the current surface changes over the Greenland ice sheet and are now used as forcing or comparison in most of the studies the SMB of this sheet. Finally, his SMB future projections have been chosen as reference in the Ice2Sea project for forcing ice sheet models and will be used in the next IPCC assessment report as evaluation of the sea level rise coming from changes in SMB of the Greenland ice sheet.