Modelled glacier response to centennial temperature and precipitation trends on the Antarctic Peninsula

Bethan J. Davies*, Nicholas R. Golledge, Neil F. Glasser, Jonathan L. Carrivick, Stefan R. M. Ligtenberg, Nicholas E. Barrand, Michiel R. van den Broeke, Michael J. Hambrey, John L. Smellie

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

The northern Antarctic Peninsula is currently undergoing rapid atmospheric warming(1). Increased glacier-surface melt during the twentieth century(2,3) has contributed to ice-shelf collapse and the widespread acceleration(4), thinning and recession(5) of glaciers. Therefore, glaciers peripheral to the Antarctic Ice Sheet currently make a large contribution to eustatic sea-level rise(6,7), but future melting may be offset by increased precipitation(8). Here we assess glacier-climate relationships both during the past and into the future, using ice-core and geological data and glacier and climate numerical model simulations. Focusing on Glacier IJR45 on James Ross Island, northeast Antarctic Peninsula, our modelling experiments show that this representative glacier is most sensitive to temperature change, not precipitation change. We determine that its most recent expansion occurred during the late Holocene 'Little Ice Age' and not during the warmer mid-Holocene, as previously proposed(9). Simulations using a range of future Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change climate scenarios indicate that future increases in precipitation are unlikely to offset atmospheric-warming-induced melt of peripheral Antarctic Peninsula glaciers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)993-998
Number of pages6
JournalNature Climate Change
Volume4
Issue number11
Early online date14 Sept 2014
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 05 Nov 2014

Keywords

  • JAMES-ROSS-ISLAND
  • SEA-LEVEL RISE
  • SURFACE MASS-BALANCE
  • LAST 50 YEARS
  • SHELF HISTORY
  • ICE-SHEET
  • CLIMATE
  • 21ST-CENTURY
  • 20TH-CENTURY

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