Antarctica’s ice discharge could raise sea level faster than previously thought


Antarctica: In the future, more ice could break of and melt, researchers say. Credit: PIK/Winkelmann

Date: August 13, 2014  Source: Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK)
Summary: Ice discharge from Antarctica could contribute up to 37 centimeters to the global sea level rise within this century, a new study shows. For the first time, an international team of scientists provide a comprehensive estimate on the full range of Antarctica’s potential contribution to global sea level rise based on physical computer simulations. The study combines a whole set of state-of-the-art climate models and observational data with various ice models.

Ice discharge from Antarctica could contribute up to 37 centimeters to the global sea level rise within this century, a new study shows. For the first time, an international team of scientists provide a comprehensive estimate on the full range of Antarctica’s potential contribution to global sea level rise based on physical computer simulations. Led by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, the study combines a whole set of state-of-the-art climate models and observational data with various ice models. The results reproduce Antarctica’s recent contribution to sea level rise as observed by satellites in the last two decades and show that the ice continent could become the largest contributor to sea level rise much sooner than previously thought.

“If greenhouse gases continue to rise as before, ice discharge from Antarctica could raise the global ocean by an additional 1 to 37 centimeters in this century already,” says lead author Anders Levermann. “Now this is a big range — which is exactly why we call it a risk: Science needs to be clear about the uncertainty, so that decision makers at the coast and in coastal megacities like Shanghai or New York can consider the potential implications in their planning processes,” says Levermann.

Antarctica currently contributes less than 10 percent to global sea level rise

The scientists analyzed how rising global mean temperatures resulted in a warming of the ocean around Antarctica, thus influencing the melting of the Antarctic ice shelves. While Antarctica currently contributes less than 10 percent to global sea level rise and is a minor contributor compared to the thermal expansion of the warming oceans and melting mountain glaciers, it is Greenland and especially the Antarctic ice sheets with their huge volume of ice that are expected to be the major contributors to future long-term sea level rise. The marine ice sheets in West Antarctica alone have the potential to elevate sea level by several meters — over several centuries.

See: A. Levermann, R. Winkelmann, S. Nowicki, J. L. Fastook, K. Frieler, R. Greve, H. H. Hellmer, M. A. Martin, M. Meinshausen, M. Mengel, A. J. Payne, D. Pollard, T. Sato, R. Timmermann, W. L. Wang, R. A. Bindschadler. Projecting Antarctic ice discharge using response functions from SeaRISE ice-sheet models. Earth System Dynamics, 2014; 5 (2): 271 DOI: 10.5194/esd-5-271-2014

…(read more).

Global Climate Change
Environment Ethics
Environment Justice

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s