GA Tech Ocean Science and Engineering Presents Dr. Alexander Robel, School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences
Marine ice sheets may melt rapidly under future climate forcing through a runaway feedback process known as the marine ice sheet instability. However, even in glaciers where such ice sheet collapse is already underway, predictions of future marine ice sheet evolution are uncertain due to poorly understood processes and internal variability of the climate system. In this talk, I will show how ideas from statistical mechanics can be applied to ice sheet modeling to estimate a realistic range of possible scenarios for future sea level rise. These approaches show that the intrinsic tendency of any instability is to amplify the range of possible outcomes (i.e. uncertainty).
The marine ice sheet instability has the special property that worst case scenarios of very rapid sea level rise are many times more likely to occur than the best cast scenarios of slow sea level rise. Using ensemble simulations from a state-of-the-art ice sheet model, I show how these ideas fare when applied to a real West Antarctic glacier that is thought to be currently undergoing collapse. I conclude by discussing future directions for ice sheet modeling and the implications for decision makers planning future coastal infrastructure under conditions of deep sea level rise uncertainty.
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