The tipping points and early warning indicators for Pine Island Glacier, West Antarctica

Rosier, Sebastian, Reese, Ronja, Donges, Jonathan F., de Rydt, Jan, Gudmundsson, Hilmar and Winkelmann, Ricarda (2021) The tipping points and early warning indicators for Pine Island Glacier, West Antarctica. The Cryosphere, 15 (3). pp. 1501-1516. ISSN 1994-0424

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-15-1501-2021

Abstract

Mass loss from the Antarctic Ice Sheet is the main source of uncertainty in projections of future sea-level rise, with important implications for coastal regions worldwide. Central to ongoing and future changes is the marine ice sheet instability: once a critical threshold, or tipping point, is crossed, ice internal dynamics can drive a self-sustaining retreat committing a glacier to irreversible, rapid and substantial ice loss. This process might have already been triggered in the Amundsen Sea region, where Pine Island and Thwaites glaciers dominate the current mass loss from Antarctica, but modelling and observational techniques have not been able to establish this rigorously, leading to divergent views on the future mass loss of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Here, we aim at closing this knowledge gap by conducting a systematic investigation of the stability regime of Pine Island Glacier. To this end we show that early warning indicators in model simulations robustly detect the onset of the marine ice sheet instability. We are thereby able to identify three distinct tipping points in response to increases in ocean-induced melt. The third and final event, triggered by an ocean warming of approximately 1.2 ∘C from the steady-state model configuration, leads to a retreat of the entire glacier that could initiate a collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Funding information: This research has been supported by the Natural Environment Research Council (grant nos. NE/L013770/1 and NE/S006745/1), the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (grant no. WI4556/3-1) and Horizon 2020 (TiPACCs (grant no. 820575)).
Subjects: F600 Geology
F700 Ocean Sciences
F800 Physical and Terrestrial Geographical and Environmental Sciences
Department: Faculties > Engineering and Environment > Geography and Environmental Sciences
Depositing User: Elena Carlaw
Date Deposited: 25 Mar 2021 09:50
Last Modified: 31 May 2021 14:40
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/45785

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