Location: Bowdoin / Environmental Studies / Activity / 2011 / Water, Water Everywhere: Dynamic Ice Sheets and the Potential for Rapid 21st Century Sea Level Rise

Environmental Studies

Water, Water Everywhere: Dynamic Ice Sheets and the Potential for Rapid 21st Century Sea Level Rise

Story posted February 21, 2011

Event date(s): March 04, 2011 — March 05, 2011

Gordon Hamilton, Climate Change Institute and Department of Earth Sciences, University of Maine
Friday, March 4 Lecture: 12:30, Searles 315
Reception: 12-12:30 Searles 314



The IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report (2007) predicts 18-59 cm of sea level rise by 2100, with approximately half the rise being contributed by accelerated melting of polar ice sheets in a warmer climate. New observations from Greenland and parts of West Antarctica now suggest a potentially significant underestimate in the range of sea level rise. Instead of simply melting in warmer atmospheric temperatures, ice sheets are now known to be capable of making a rapid contribution to sea level rise by the increased flux of solid mass to the oceans (i.e., the discharge of icebergs from outlet glaciers). The cause of this increased mass flux is not fully understood, but observations suggest a tight coupling between ice sheet response and relatively small perturbations in either the rate of surface meltwater generation or temperature changes in the abutting ocean. This talk will review some of our recent work in Greenland, and discuss the evidence behind a revised estimate of 1 m sea level rise by 2100.