Uncertainty Quantification of Potential Antarctic sea level contribution

New Cryosphere paper exploring the uncertainty in continental Antarctic Ice Sheet projections

Abstract
Estimating the future evolution of the Antarctic Ice Sheet (AIS) is critical for improving future sea level rise (SLR) projections. Numerical ice sheet models are invaluable tools for bounding Antarctic vulnerability; yet, few continental scale projections of century-scale AIS SLR contribution exist, and those that do vary by up to an order of magnitude. This is partly because model projections of future sea level are inherently uncertain and depend largely on the model’s boundary conditions and climate forcing, which themselves are unknown due to the uncertainty in the projections of future anthropogenic emissions and sub- sequent climate response. Here, we aim to improve the understanding of how uncertainties in model forcing and boundary conditions affect ice sheet model simulations. With use of sampling techniques embedded within the Ice Sheet System Model (ISSM) framework, we assess how uncertainties in snow accumulation, ocean induced melting, ice viscosity, basal friction, bedrock elevation, and the presence of ice shelves, impact continental scale 100-year model simulations of AIS future sea level contribution. Overall, we find that AIS sea level contribution is strongly affected by grounding line retreat, which is driven by the magnitude of ice shelf basal melt rates and by variations in bedrock topography. In addition, we find that over 1.2 meters of AIS global mean sea level contribution over the next century is achievable, but not likely, as it is tenable only in response to unrealistically large melt rates and continental ice shelf collapse. Regionally, we find that under our most extreme 100-year warming experiment generalized for the entire ice sheet, the Amundsen Sea Sector is the most significant source of model uncertainty (1032 mm 6σ spread), and the region with the largest potential for future sea level contribution (297 mm). In contrast, under a more plausible forcing informed regionally by literature and model sensitivity studies, the Ronne basin has a greater potential for local increases in ice shelf basal melt rates. As a result, under this more likely realization, where warm waters reach the continental shelf under the Ronne ice shelf, it is the Ronne basin, particularly the Evans and Rutford Ice Streams, that are the greatest contributors to potential SLR (161 mm) and to simulation uncertainty (420 mm 6σ spread).

Reference
N.-J. Schlegel, H. Seroussi, M. P. Schodlok, E. Y. Larour, C. Boening, D. Limonadi, M. M. Watkins, M. Morlighem, and M. R. van den Broeke, Exploration of Antarctic Ice Sheet 100-year contribution to sea level rise and associated model uncertainties using the ISSM framework,The Cryosphere, 12, 3511-3534, https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-12-3511-2018, 2018.