The climatic consequences of a Pine Island Glacier collapse

  • 21 September 2015
The climatic consequences of a Pine Island Glacier collapse

The Pine Island Glacier, Antarctica's fastest-melting glacier, is rapidly retreating and discharging increasing volumes of freshwater into the Southern Ocean. This freshwater can have a large-scale impact on ocean circulation and on the climate.

New CVP-funded research published in the Journal of Climate by Green and Schmittner simulates the consequences of a rapid collapse of the Pine Island Glacier (PIG) under pre-industrial and anthropogenically-forced conditions. Under pre-industrial conditions, an introduction of freshwater from the PIG can result in an increase in global ocean heat content and a decrease in surface air temperatures, as well as an increase in the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation. Under an increased atmospheric CO2 scenario, these effects are less pronounced as atmospheric warming dominates.

These findings, published online on Aug. 20, complement similar research performed in the Northern Hemisphere, and suggest that simultaneous collapse of other ice sheets could have profound global impacts.

To access the full paper, visit:




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