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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 10 Dec 2018

Research article | 10 Dec 2018

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This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal The Cryosphere (TC).

Uncertainty quantification of the multi-centennial response of the Antarctic Ice Sheet to climate change

Kevin Bulthuis1,2, Maarten Arnst1, Sainan Sun2, and Frank Pattyn2 Kevin Bulthuis et al.
  • 1Computational and Stochastic Modeling, Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, Université de Liège, Allée de la Découverte 9, Quartier Polytech 1, 4000 Liège, Belgium
  • 2Laboratoire de Glaciologie, Department of Geosciences, Environment and Society, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Av. F. D. Roosevelt 50, 1050 Brussels, Belgium

Abstract. Ice loss from the Antarctic ice sheet (AIS) is expected to become the major contributor to sea-level rise in the next centuries. Projections of the AIS response to climate change based on numerical ice-sheet models remain challenging to establish due to the complexity of physical processes involved in ice-sheet dynamics, including instability mechanisms that can destabilise marine sectors with retrograde slopes. Moreover, uncertainties in ice-sheet models limit the ability to provide accurate sea-level rise projections. Here, we apply probabilistic methods to a hybrid ice-sheet model to investigate the influence of several sources of uncertainty, namely sources of uncertainty in atmospheric forcing, basal sliding, grounding-line flux parameterisation, calving, sub-shelf melting, ice-shelf rheology and bedrock relaxation, on the continental response of the Antarctic ice sheet to climate change over the next millennium. We provide probabilistic projections of sea-level rise and grounding-line retreat and we carry out stochastic sensitivity analyses to determine the most influential sources of uncertainty. We find that all sources of uncertainty, except perhaps the bedrock relaxation times, contribute to the uncertainty in the projections. We show that the sensitivity of the projections to uncertainties increases and the contribution of the uncertainty in sub-shelf melting to the uncertainty in the projections becomes more and more dominant as the scenario gets warmer. We show that the significance of the AIS contribution to sea-level rise is controlled by marine ice-sheet instability (MISI) in marine basins, with the biggest contribution stemming from the more vulnerable West Antarctic ice sheet. We find that, irrespectively of parametric uncertainty, the strongly mitigated RCP 2.6 scenario prevents the collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet, that in both RCP 4.5 and RCP 6.0 scenarios the occurrence of MISI in marine basins is more sensitive to parametric uncertainty and that, almost irrespectively of parametric uncertainty, RCP 8.5 triggers the collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet.

Kevin Bulthuis et al.
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Kevin Bulthuis et al.
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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
Using probabilistic methods, we quantify the uncertainty in the Antarctic ice-sheet response to climate change over the next millennium under the four RCP scenarios and parametric uncertainty. We find that the ice sheet is stable in RCP 2.6 regardless of parametric uncertainty while West Antarctica undergoes disintegration in RCP 8.5 almost regardless of parametric uncertainty. We also show a high sensitivity of the ice-sheet response to uncertainty in sub-shelf melting and sliding conditions.
Using probabilistic methods, we quantify the uncertainty in the Antarctic ice-sheet response to...