Articles | Volume 8, issue 5
The Cryosphere, 8, 1699–1710, 2014
The Cryosphere, 8, 1699–1710, 2014

Research article 17 Sep 2014

Research article | 17 Sep 2014

Sensitivity of the dynamics of Pine Island Glacier, West Antarctica, to climate forcing for the next 50 years

H. Seroussi1, M. Morlighem2, E. Rignot1,2, J. Mouginot2, E. Larour1, M. Schodlok1,3, and A. Khazendar1 H. Seroussi et al.
  • 1Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, 4800 Oak Grove Drive MS 300-323, Pasadena, CA 91109-8099, USA
  • 2University of California, Irvine, Department of Earth System Science, Croul Hall, Irvine, CA 92697-3100, USA
  • 3Joint Institute for Regional Earth System Science and Engineering, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA

Abstract. Pine Island Glacier, a major contributor to sea level rise in West Antarctica, has been undergoing significant changes over the last few decades. Here, we employ a three-dimensional, higher-order model to simulate its evolution over the next 50 yr in response to changes in its surface mass balance, the position of its calving front and ocean-induced ice shelf melting. Simulations show that the largest climatic impact on ice dynamics is the rate of ice shelf melting, which rapidly affects the glacier speed over several hundreds of kilometers upstream of the grounding line. Our simulations show that the speedup observed in the 1990s and 2000s is consistent with an increase in sub-ice-shelf melting. According to our modeling results, even if the grounding line stabilizes for a few decades, we find that the glacier reaction can continue for several decades longer. Furthermore, Pine Island Glacier will continue to change rapidly over the coming decades and remain a major contributor to sea level rise, even if ocean-induced melting is reduced.