Research ArticleENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE

Future climate response to Antarctic Ice Sheet melt caused by anthropogenic warming

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Science Advances  23 Sep 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 39, eaaz1169
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaz1169

Abstract

Meltwater and ice discharge from a retreating Antarctic Ice Sheet could have important impacts on future global climate. Here, we report on multi-century (present–2250) climate simulations performed using a coupled numerical model integrated under future greenhouse-gas emission scenarios IPCC RCP4.5 and RCP8.5, with meltwater and ice discharge provided by a dynamic-thermodynamic ice sheet model. Accounting for Antarctic discharge raises subsurface ocean temperatures by >1°C at the ice margin relative to simulations ignoring discharge. In contrast, expanded sea ice and 2° to 10°C cooler surface air and surface ocean temperatures in the Southern Ocean delay the increase of projected global mean anthropogenic warming through 2250. In addition, the projected loss of Arctic winter sea ice and weakening of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation are delayed by several decades. Our results demonstrate a need to accurately account for meltwater input from ice sheets in order to make confident climate predictions.

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