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https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2019-330
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2019-330
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 21 Jan 2020

Submitted as: research article | 21 Jan 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal TC.

The role of history and strength of the oceanic forcing in sea-level projections from Antarctica with the Parallel Ice Sheet Model

Ronja Reese1, Anders Levermann1,2,3, Torsten Albrecht1, Hélène Seroussi4, and Ricarda Winkelmann1,2 Ronja Reese et al.
  • 1Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), Member of the Leibniz Association, P.O. Box 60 12 03, 14412 Potsdam, Germany
  • 2University of Potsdam, Institute of Physics and Astronomy, Karl-Liebknecht-Str. 24-25, 14476 Potsdam, Germany
  • 3LDEO, Columbia University, New York, USA
  • 4Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, USA

Abstract. Mass loss from the Antarctic Ice Sheet constitutes the largest uncertainty in projections of future sea-level rise. Ocean-driven melting underneath the floating ice shelves and subsequent acceleration of the inland ice streams is the major reason for currently observed mass loss from Antarctica and is expected to become more important in the future. Here we show that for projections of future mass loss from the Antarctic Ice Sheet, it is essential (1) to better constrain the sensitivity of sub-shelf melt rates to ocean warming, and (2) to include the historic trajectory of the ice sheet. In particular, we find that while the ice-sheet response in simulations using the Parallel Ice Sheet Model is comparable to the median response of models in three Antarctic Ice Sheet Intercomparison projects – initMIP, LARMIP-2 and ISMIP6 – conducted with a range of ice-sheet models, the projected 21st century sea-level contribution differs significantly depending on these two factors. For the highest emission scenario RCP8.5, this leads to projected ice loss ranging from 1.4 to 4.0 cm of sea-level equivalent in the ISMIP6 simulations where the sub-shelf melt sensitivity is comparably low, opposed to a likely range of 9.2 to 35.9 cm using the exact same initial setup, but emulated from the LARMIP-2 experiments with a higher melt sensitivity based on oceanographic studies. Furthermore, using two initial states, one with and one without a previous historic simulation from 1850 to 2014, we show that while differences between the ice-sheet configurations in 2015 are marginal, the historic simulation increases the susceptibility of the ice sheet to ocean warming, thereby increasing mass loss from 2015 to 2100 by about 50 %. Our results emphasize that the uncertainty that arises from the forcing is of the same order of magnitude as the ice-dynamic response for future sea-level projections.

Ronja Reese et al.

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Latest update: 05 Apr 2020
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Short summary
The contribution of the Antarctic Ice Sheet is one of the largest uncertainties in projections of future sea-level rise. In this work, we compare projections simulated with the Parallel Ice Sheet Model submitted to ISMIP6 with projections estimated following the LARMIP-2 protocol based on the same model configuration. We find an order of magnitude difference in the 21st century projected ice loss, which can be explained by the translation of ocean forcing to sub-shelf melting.
The contribution of the Antarctic Ice Sheet is one of the largest uncertainties in projections...
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