Predicted present-day evolution patterns of ice thickness and bedrock elevation over Greenland and Antarctica

This paper discusses predicted evolution patterns of present-day changes of ice thickness, surface elevation, and bedrock elevation over the Greenland and Antarctic continents. These were obtained from calculations with dynamic 3-D ice sheet models which were coupled to a visco-elastic solid Earth model. The experiments were initialized over the last two glacial cycles and subsequently averaged over the last 200 years to obtain the current evolution. The calculations indicate that the Antarctic Ice Sheet is still adjusting to the last glacial-interglacial transition yielding a decreasing ice volume and a rising bedrock elevation of the order of several centimetres per year. The Greenland Ice Sheet was found to be close to a stationary state with a mean thickness change of only a few millimetres per year, but the calculations revealed large spatial differences. Predicted patterns over Greenland are characterized by a small thickening over the ice sheet interior and a general thinning of the ablation area. In Antarctica, almost all of the predicted changes are concentrated in the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, which is still retreating at both the Weddell and Ross Sea margins. Over most of both ice sheets, the model indicates that the surface elevation trend is dominated by ice thickness changes rather than by bedrock elevation changes


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Authors: Huybrechts, Philippe, Le Meur, Emmanuel

1 January, 1999
Polar Research / 18
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