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The tipping points and early-warning indicators for Pine Island Glacier, West Antarctica

Authors

Rosier,  Sebastian H. R.
External Organizations;

/persons/resource/Ronja.Reese

Reese,  Ronja
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;

/persons/resource/Donges

Donges,  Jonathan Friedemann
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;

De Rydt,  Jan
External Organizations;

Gudmundsson,  G. Hilmar
External Organizations;

/persons/resource/Ricarda.Winkelmann

Winkelmann,  Ricarda
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;

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Citation

Rosier, S. H. R., Reese, R., Donges, J. F., De Rydt, J., Gudmundsson, G. H., Winkelmann, R. (in press): The tipping points and early-warning indicators for Pine Island Glacier, West Antarctica. - The Cryosphere.
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2020-186


Cite as: https://publications.pik-potsdam.de/pubman/item/item_25352
Abstract
Mass loss from the Antarctic Ice Sheet is the main source of uncertainty in projections of future sea-level rise, with important implications for coastal regions worldwide. Central to this is the marine ice sheet instability: once a critical threshold, or tipping point, is crossed, ice-internal dynamics can drive a self-amplifying retreat committing a glacier to irreversible, rapid and substantial ice loss. This process might have already been triggered in the Amundsen Sea region, where Pine Island and Thwaites glaciers dominate the current mass loss from Antarctica, but modelling and observational techniques have not been able to establish this rigorously, leading to divergent views on the future mass loss of the WAIS. Here, we aim at closing this knowledge gap by conducting a systematic investigation of the stability regime of Pine Island Glacier. To this end we show that early warning indicators robustly detect critical slowing for the marine ice sheet instability. We are thereby able to identify three distinct tipping points in response to increases in ocean-induced melt. The third and final event, triggered by an ocean warming of approximately 1.2 °C from the steady state model configuration, leads to a retreat of the entire glacier that could initiate a collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.