New research shows restoring ice melt rates in The Amundsen Sea Embayment to present-day levels within the next century could limit ice discharge and sea level contribution, however a long-term increase in ice accumulation is necessary to reverse ice loss in the region

Global mean sea level has been rising rapidly in recent years and will continue to do so for centuries. The Amundsen Sea Embayment in West Antarctica is a crucial region for ice loss and therefore sea level contributions. The Pine Island and Thwaites Glaciers flowing have accelerated in recent decades in response to changes in ocean circulation, discharging ice into the Amundsen sea at a greater rate.

Researchers from the Antarctic Research Centre, Victoria University of Wellington, and the Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling used CPOM’s BISICLES models to explore the long-term effects of short bursts of ocean-driven melting under ice shelves. Their findings showed that restoring melt rates to present-day levels within 100 years would reduce ice discharge compared to sustained melting. However, to fully offset ice loss, a century-long increase in ice accumulation would be necessary.

BISICLES is a state-of-the-art high-performance parallel ice sheet model that employs adaptive mesh techniques and data assimilation methods to simulate continental ice sheets. The model runs on a range of computing platforms and is able to deliver sub-kilometre resolution at continental scales over millennia, making it highly successful in simulating grounding-line migration.

The paper ‘Sustained ocean cooling insufficient to reverse sea level rise from Antarctica’, Alevropoulos-Borrill, A., Golledge, N.R., Cornford, S.L. et al. is available to read or download from the Communications Earth & Environment Journal.