School of Engineering

Event items

The marine-ice-sheet instability and the future of the Antarctic Ice Sheet

Speaker: Dr Hilmar Gundmundsson (Northumbria University)

Date/Time: Monday 15 October 2018; 13:00-14:00

Venue: Cassie Building Room 3.23

One of the greatest scientific challenges of today is understanding and quantifying the impacts of global warming on the environment and societies.

Of particular importance is determining whether the resulting environmental changes will be gradual and roughly proportional to external changes, or greatly amplified and sudden. Large and sudden changes might occur within systems that possess internal thresholds.

Worryingly, research does suggest the existence of several tipping points within the climate system, which, once passed, may give rise to large, abrupt and possibly irreversible changes in the environment with significant societal implications. One such potential environmental tipping point is found in the internal dynamics of the Antarctic Ice Sheet. It is now firmly established that marine ice sheets (ice sheets resting on bed below sea level), such as the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, are susceptible to an unstable and irrevocable retreat. In this talk, I will:

  • review the marine-ice-sheet instability hypothesis
  • summarise recent findings
  • discuss the impact of ice shelves on the stability of the Antarctic Ice Sheet