We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse this repository, you give consent for essential cookies to be used. You can read more about our Privacy and Cookie Policy.

Durham Research Online
You are in:

Contrasting Response of West and East Antarctic Ice Sheets to Glacial Isostatic Adjustment

Coulon, Violaine and Bulthuis, Kevin and Whitehouse, Pippa L. and Sun, Sainan and Haubner, Konstanze and Zipf, Lars and Pattyn, Frank (2021) 'Contrasting Response of West and East Antarctic Ice Sheets to Glacial Isostatic Adjustment.', Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface, 126 (7). e2020JF006003.


The Antarctic ice sheet (AIS) lies on a solid Earth that displays large spatial variations in rheological properties, with a thin lithosphere and low-viscosity upper mantle (weak Earth structure) beneath West Antarctica and an opposing structure beneath East Antarctica. This contrast is known to have a significant impact on the ice-sheet grounding-line stability. Here, we embed within an ice-sheet model a modified glacial-isostatic Elastic Lithosphere-Relaxing Asthenosphere model that considers a dual pattern for the Earth structure beneath West and East Antarctica supplemented with an approximation of gravitationally consistent geoid changes, allowing to approximate near-field relative sea-level changes. We show that this elementary GIA model captures the essence of global Self-Gravitating Viscoelastic solid-Earth Models (SGVEMs) and compares well with both SGVEM outputs and geodetic observations, allowing to capture the essential features and processes influencing Antarctic grounding-line stability in a computationally efficient way. In this framework, we perform a probabilistic assessment of the impact of uncertainties in solid-Earth rheological properties on the response of the AIS to future warming. Results show that on multicentennial-to-millennial timescales, spatial variability in solid-Earth deformation plays a significant role in promoting the stability of the West Antarctic ice sheet (WAIS). However, WAIS collapse cannot be prevented under high-emissions climate scenarios. On longer timescales and for unmitigated climate scenarios, continent-wide mass loss projections may be underestimated because spatially uniform Earth models, as typically considered in numerical ice sheet models, will overestimate the stabilizing effect of GIA across East Antarctica, which is characterized by thick lithosphere and high upper-mantle viscosity.

Item Type:Article
Full text:(VoR) Version of Record
Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives 4.0.
Download PDF
Publisher Web site:
Publisher statement:© 2021. The Authors. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.
Date accepted:01 June 2021
Date deposited:18 August 2021
Date of first online publication:18 June 2021
Date first made open access:18 August 2021

Save or Share this output

Look up in GoogleScholar