Antarctic Ice Sheet will play important role in sea level rise

1.4.2016 11:17

Research Professor John Moore from the Arctic Centre is leading a new project, where a computer model of the Antarctic Ice Sheet is used to simulate its behaviour in response to changing climate.

The model will represent the sliding of ice over the bedrock or sub-glacial sediments, and the retreat or advance of marine ice sheets. This research will help to provide estimates of the future contribution of the Antarctic Ice Sheet to sea level change.

According to John Moore, the largest uncertainty to sea level rise is what happens to Antarctica. Now, according to models, it ranges from lowering the sea level 10 centimeters to an increase in more than a meter.

Antarctica is almost entirely covered by an ice sheet up to about 4km thick. Significant regions of the ice sheet, enough to raise sea level by around 20 metres if they were to melt, rest on bedrock below sea level. These "marine ice sheet" regions are potentially vulnerable to unstable retreat, which could contribute to rapid sea level rise, and may not be reversible. But how fast the retreat will occur, and over which regions, and how much climate change is needed to cause it, are all questions that await definitive answers.

The Academy of Finland has produced the video where John Moore and Rupert Gladstone tell about the new research project "Simulating Antarctic marine ice sheet stability and multi-century contributions to sea level rise".