Different magnitudes of projected subsurface ocean warming around Greenland and Antarctica

Jianjun Yin, Jonathan T. Overpeck, Stephen M. Griffies, Aixue Hu, Joellen L. Russell, Ronald J. Stouffer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

62 Scopus citations

Abstract

The observed acceleration of outlet glaciers and ice flows in Greenland and Antarctica is closely linked to ocean warming, especially in the subsurface layer1-5. Accurate projections of ice-sheet dynamics and global sea-level rise therefore require information of future ocean warming in the vicinity of the large ice sheets. Here we use a set of 19 state-of-the-art climate models to quantify this ocean warming in the next two centuries. We find that in response to a mid-range increase in atmospheric greenhouse-gas concentrations, the subsurface oceans surrounding the two polar ice sheets at depths of 200-500 m warm substantially compared with the observed changes thus far6-8. Model projections suggest that over the course of the twenty-first century, the maximum ocean warming around Greenland will be almost double the global mean, with a magnitude of 1.7-2.0 °C. By contrast, ocean warming around Antarctica will be only about half as large as global mean warming, with a magnitude of 0.5-0.6 °C. A more detailed evaluation indicates that ocean warming is controlled by different mechanisms around Greenland and Antarctica. We conclude that projected subsurface ocean warming could drive significant increases in ice-mass loss, and heighten the risk of future large sea-level rise.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)524-528
Number of pages5
JournalNature Geoscience
Volume4
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

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