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Nat Commun. 2015 Nov 10;6:8798. doi: 10.1038/ncomms9798.

Sea-level feedback lowers projections of future Antarctic Ice-Sheet mass loss.

Author information

1
Center for Atmosphere Ocean Sciences, Couratnt Institute of Mathematical Sciences, New York University, New York, New York 10012, USA.
2
Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, McGill University, 3450 University Street, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H3A 0E8.
3
Earth and Environmental Systems Institute, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania 16801, USA.

Abstract

The stability of marine sectors of the Antarctic Ice Sheet (AIS) in a warming climate has been identified as the largest source of uncertainty in projections of future sea-level rise. Sea-level fall near the grounding line of a retreating marine ice sheet has a stabilizing influence on the ice sheets, and previous studies have established the importance of this feedback on ice age AIS evolution. Here we use a coupled ice sheet-sea-level model to investigate the impact of the feedback mechanism on future AIS retreat over centennial and millennial timescales for a range of emission scenarios. We show that the combination of bedrock uplift and sea-surface drop associated with ice-sheet retreat significantly reduces AIS mass loss relative to a simulation without these effects included. Sensitivity analyses show that the stabilization tends to be greatest for lower emission scenarios and Earth models characterized by a thin elastic lithosphere and low-viscosity upper mantle, as is the case for West Antarctica.

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