Retreat of the Antarctic Ice Sheet During the Last Interglaciation and Implications for Future Change

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Geophysical Research Letters, 2021, 48, (17)
Issue Date:
Full metadata record
The Antarctic Ice Sheet (AIS) response to past warming consistent with the 1.5–2°C “safe limit” of the United Nations Paris Agreement is currently not well known. Empirical evidence from the most recent comparable period, the Last Interglaciation, is sparse, and transient ice-sheet experiments are few and inconsistent. Here, we present new, transient, GCM-forced ice-sheet simulations validated against proxy reconstructions. This is the first time such an evaluation has been attempted. Our empirically constrained simulations indicate that the AIS contributed 4 m to global mean sea level by 126 ka BP, with ice lost primarily from the Amundsen, but not Ross or Weddell Sea, sectors. We resolve the conflict between previous work and show that the AIS thinned in the Wilkes Subglacial Basin but did not retreat. We also find that the West AIS may be predisposed to future collapse even in the absence of further environmental change, consistent with previous studies.
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