Future sea-level rise from tidewater and ice-shelf tributary glaciers of the Antarctic Peninsula

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Abstract

Iceberg calving and increased ice discharge from ice-shelf tributary glaciers contribute significant amounts to global sea-level rise (SLR) from the Antarctic Peninsula (AP). Owing to ongoing ice dynamical changes (collapse of buttressing ice shelves), these contributions have accelerated in recent years. As the AP is one of the fastest warming regions on Earth, further ice dynamical adjustment (increased ice discharge) is expected over the next two centuries. In this paper, the first regional SLR projection of the AP from both iceberg calving (tidewater) and increased ice discharge from ice-shelf tributary glaciers in response to ice-shelf collapse is presented. An ice-sheet model forced by temperature output from 13 global climate models (GCMs), in response to the high greenhouse gas emission scenario (RCP8.5), projects AP contribution to SLR of 28±16 to 32±16 mm by 2300 that is roughly split between tidewater glaciers and ice-shelf tributary glaciers. In the RCP4.5 scenario, sea-level rise projections to 2300 are dominated by tidewater glaciers (∼8-18 mm). In this cooler scenario, 2.4±1 mm is added to global sea levels from ice-shelf tributary drainage basins as fewer ice shelves are projected to collapse. Sea-level projections from ice-shelf tributary glaciers are dominated by drainage basins feeding George VI Ice Shelf, accounting for ∼70% of simulated SLR. Combined total ice dynamical SLR projections to 2300 from the AP vary between 11±2 and 32±16 mm sea-level equivalent (SLE), depending on the emission scenario used. These simulations suggest that omission of tidewater glaciers could lead to a substantial underestimation of the ice sheet’s contribution to regional SLR.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161–170
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Volume453
Early online date23 Aug 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2016

Keywords

  • Ice dynamics, Sea-level rise, Tidewater glaciers, Ice-shelf collapse, Ice-shelf tributary glaciers