NASA-led research on sea-level rise with PIK contribution: Global intercomparison of projected mass loss from ice sheets

 
09/18/2020 In an international effort, 60 researchers including several researchers from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) have produced extensive analyses of Antarctica’s and Greenland’s future mass loss.
NASA-led research on sea-level rise with PIK contribution: Global intercomparison of projected mass loss from ice sheets
Ice shelves in Antarctica, such as the Getz Ice Shelf seen here, are sensitive to warming ocean temperatures. Credit: NASA/Jeremy Harbeck

The ISMIP6 Ice Sheet Model intercomparison project, led by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre in Maryland, USA, investigates in computer simulations how ice sheets respond to global warming. The results will play a decisive role in the next IPCC report. With their ISMIP6 companion study, PIK scientists Ronja Reese et al. contribute key findings for the future evolution of the Antarctic Ice Sheet. Ronja Reese explains: "With our modelling study we show that the mass loss we observed in Antarctica until today may put the ice sheet on a trajectory of higher mass loss in the decades to come. In addition, we find that the key uncertainty in Antarctica’s future contribution to sea-level rise is the amount by which the ocean-driven melting will increase, with higher changes being a substantial risk for coastal cities in the future."
The companion study highlights two crucial elements that play a significant role when describing Antarctic ice loss and therefore potential dangerous sea-level rise: historical conditions and warming ocean temperatures that melt floating ice shelves from below. Anders Levermann concludes: “Antarctica bears a huge risk for future sea level rise because of the uncertainty of its response to human-induced warming. Uncertainty cannot be a reason to wait-and-see here – it is in fact a reason for urgent action. We already know that something will happen. We just don't know how bad it is going to get."

ISMIP6 companion project
Reese, R., Levermann, A., Albrecht, T., Seroussi, H., and Winkelmann, R.: The role of history and strength of the oceanic forcing in sea level projections from Antarctica with the Parallel Ice Sheet Model. The Cryosphere [DOI: 10.5194/tc-14-3097-2020]

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