Ice sheet model with variable resolution evaluates vulnerable regions of the Antarctic ice sheet.
The biggest uncertainty in near-future sea level rise (SLR) comes from the Antarctic Ice Sheet. Antarctic ice flows in relatively fast-moving ice streams from the interior to the ocean, where it is carried into enormous floating ice shelves which push back on their feeder ice streams, buttressing them and slowing their flow. Melting and loss of ice shelves due to climate change can result in faster ice flow, ice sheet thinning and retreat, and a resulting accelerated contribution to global sea level rise.
An ice sheet model sensitivity study identified the three ice shelves connected to West Antarctica as most prone to destabilization.
To better understand where the Antarctic ice sheet (AIS) is vulnerable to ice-shelf loss, a team of researchers led by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, divided the AIS into 14 regional sectors, which roughly correspond to large-scale Antarctic drainage basins. Using their high-resolution (1km or finer) BISICLES ice sheet model, they applied extreme thinning rates to each sector's floating ice shelves in turn, then ran the model 1000 years into the future for each case. They found three levels of vulnerability. The greatest vulnerability came from destabilizing any of the three ice shelves connected to West Antarctica, where much of the ice sits on bedrock below sea level. Each of those dramatic responses contributed around 2m of sea level rise. The second level of vulnerability came from four other sectors, each with a contribution between 0.5-1m. The remaining sectors produced little to no contribution. They also examined combinations of sectors, determining that sectors behave independently of each other for at least a century.
Contacts BER PM)
Earth and Environmental System Modeling
Department of Energy, Office of Science, Biological and Environmental Research
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Earth and Environmental System Modeling and SciDAC (BER/ASCR).
Martin, D.F., S.L. Cornford, and A.J. Payne. “Millennial-Scale Vulnerability of the Antarctic Ice Sheet to Regional Ice Shelf Collapse.” Geophysical Research Letters, 46(3), 1467-1475 (2019). [DOI:10.1029/2018GL081229]
SC-23.1 Climate and Environmental Sciences Division, BER
BER supports basic research and scientific user facilities to advance DOE missions in energy and environment. More about BER
Aug 24, 2019
New Approach for Studying How Microbes Influence Their Environment
A diverse group of scientists suggests a common framework and targeting of known microbial processes [more...]
Aug 08, 2019
Nutrient-Hungry Peatland Microbes Reduce Carbon Loss Under Warmer Conditions
Enzyme production in peatlands reduces carbon lost to respiration under future high temperatures. [more...]
Aug 05, 2019
Amazon Forest Response to CO2 Fertilization Dependent on Plant Phosphorus Acquisition
AmazonFACE Model Intercomparison. The Science Plant growth is dependent on the availabi [more...]
Jul 29, 2019
A Slippery Slope: Soil Carbon Destabilization
Carbon gain or loss depends on the balance between competing biological, chemical, and physical reac [more...]
Jul 15, 2019
Field Evaluation of Gas Analyzers for Measuring Ecosystem Fluxes
How gas analyzer type and correction method impact measured fluxes. The Science A side- [more...]
List all highlights (possible long download time)