Brief communication: A roadmap towards credible projections of ice sheet contribution to sea level

Andy Aschwanden, Timothy C. Bartholomaus, Douglas J. Brinkerhoff, Martin Truffer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Accurately projecting mass loss from ice sheets is of critical societal importance. However, despite recent improvements in ice sheet models, our analysis of a recent effort to project ice sheet contribution to future sea level suggests that few models reproduce historical mass loss accurately and that they appear much too confident in the spread of predicted outcomes. The inability of models to reproduce historical observations raises concerns about the models' skill at projecting mass loss. Here we suggest that uncertainties in the future sea level contribution from Greenland and Antarctica may well be significantly higher than reported in that study. We propose a roadmap to enable a more realistic accounting of uncertainties associated with such forecasts and a formal process by which observations of mass change should be used to refine projections of mass change. Finally, we note that tremendous government investment and planning affecting tens to hundreds of millions of people is founded on the work of just a few tens of scientists. To achieve the goal of credible projections of ice sheet contribution to sea level, we strongly believe that investment in research must be commensurate with the scale of the challenge.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5705-5715
Number of pages11
JournalCryosphere
Volume15
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 17 2021

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