Sea level feedback lowers projections of future Antarctic Ice-Sheet mass loss, says CPO-funded research

  • 1 December 2015
  • Number of views: 3435
Sea level rise can exacerbate flooding, shoreline erosion, and storm hazards, making coastal communities more vulnerable. Recently, the rate of sea level rise has increased due to melting glaciers and ice sheets, and thermal expansion of seawater; however, melting glaciers and ice sheets have had a greater impact on sea level rise than thermal expansion over the past decade. In terms of future sea level rise projections in a warming climate, the stability of the marine areas of the Antarctic Ice Sheet (AIS) has been identified as the greatest source of uncertainty. With a large proportion of the population living in coastal areas, it is important to have a robust understanding of the relationship between melting glaciers and ice sheets and sea-level rise in order to prepare coastal communities. 

Research supported by CPO’s Modeling, Analysis, Predictions, and Projections (MAPP) and Climate Variability and Predictability (CVP) programs evaluated the influence of the feedback mechanism between sea-level fall and ice sheets on future AIS retreat on centennial and millennial timescales for different emission scenarios, using a coupled ice sheet-sea-level model. Previous research has shown that sea-level fall near a retreating marine ice sheet’s grounding line helps stabilize the ice sheet.

The study by Natalya Gomez (McGill University), David Pollard (Pennsylvania State University), and David Holland (New York University) showed that the combination of bedrock uplift and sea-surface fall associated with ice-sheet retreat significantly reduces AIS mass loss compared to a simulation without the feedback. This stabilization tended to be greatest for lower emission scenarios.

To access the paper, go to: http://www.nature.com/ncomms/2015/151110/ncomms9798/full/ncomms9798.html 

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