A framework for estimating the anthropogenic part of Antarctica’s sea level contribution in a synthetic setting

The relative contributions of anthropogenic climate change and internal variability in sea level rise from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet are yet to be determined. Even the way to address this question is not yet clear, since these two are linked through ice-ocean feedbacks and probed using ice sheet models with substantial uncertainty. Here we demonstrate how their relative contributions can be assessed by simulating the retreat of a synthetic ice sheet setup using an ice sheet model. Using a Bayesian approach, we construct distributions of sea level rise associated with this retreat. We demonstrate that it is necessary to account for both uncertainties arising from both a poorly-constrained model parameter and stochastic variations in climatic forcing, and our distributions of sea level rise include these two. These sources of uncertainty have only previously been considered in isolation. We identify characteristic effects of climate change on sea level rise distributions in this setup, most notably that climate change increases both the median and the weight in tails of distributions. From these findings, we construct metrics quantifying the role of climate change on both past and future sea level rise, suggesting that its attribution is possible even for unstable marine ice sheets.


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Authors: Bradley, Alexander T. ORCIDORCID record for Alexander T. Bradley, Bett, David T. ORCIDORCID record for David T. Bett, Holland, Paul R. ORCIDORCID record for Paul R. Holland, Williams, C. Rosie, Arthern, Robert J. ORCIDORCID record for Robert J. Arthern, De Rydt, Jan

On this site: Alexander Bradley, Rosie Williams, David Bett, Paul Holland, Robert Arthern
11 March, 2024
Nature Communications Earth and Environment / 5
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