Antarctic ice sheet response to sudden and sustained ice-shelf collapse (ABUMIP)

S. Sun, F. Pattyn, E. G. Simon, T. Albrecht, S. Cornford, R. Calov, C. Dumas, F. Gillet-Chaulet, H. Goelzer, N. R. Golledge, R. Greve, M. J. Hoffman, A. Humbert, E. Kazmierczak, T. Kleiner, G. R. Leguy, W. H. Lipscomb, D. Martin, M. Morlighem, S. Nowicki, D. Pollard, S. Price, A. Quiquet, H. Seroussi, T. Schlemm, J. Sutter, R. S. W. van de Wal, R. Winkelmann and T. Zhang


Antarctica's ice shelves modulate the grounded ice flow, and weakening of ice shelves due to climate forcing will decrease their 'buttressing' effect, causing a response in the grounded ice. While the processes governing ice-shelf weakening are complex, uncertainties in the response of the grounded ice sheet are also difficult to assess. The Antarctic BUttressing Model Intercomparison Project (ABUMIP) compares ice-sheet model responses to decrease in buttressing by investigating the 'end-member' scenario of total and sustained loss of ice shelves. Although unrealistic, this scenario enables gauging the sensitivity of an ensemble of 15 ice-sheet models to a total loss of buttressing, hence exhibiting the full potential of marine ice sheet instability. All models predict that this scenario leads to multi-metre (1–12 m) sea-level rise over 500 years from present day. West Antarctic ice sheet collapse alone leads to a 1.91–5.08 m sea-level rise due to the marine ice sheet instability. Mass loss rates are a strong function of the sliding/friction law, with plastic laws cause a further destabilization of the Aurora and Wilkes Subglacial Basins, East Antarctica. Improvements to marine ice-sheet models have greatly reduced variability between modelled ice-sheet responses to extreme ice-shelf loss, e.g. compared to the SeaRISE assessments.

Journal of Glaciology 66 (260), 891-904 (2020).

Last modified: 2020-12-01