An Overlooked Term in Assessment of the Potential Sea-Level Rise from a Collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet


As to sea level rise (SLR) contribution, melting and setting afloat make no difference for land based ice. Melting of West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) into water is impossible in the upcoming several centuries, whereas breaking and partially afloat is likely as long as sea waters find a pathway to the bottom of those ice sectors with basal elevation below sea level. In this sense WAIS may be disintegrated in a future warming climate. We reassess the potential contribution to eustatic sea level from a collapse of WAIS and find that previous assessments have overlooked a contributor: slope instability after the cementing ice is removed. Over loading ice has a buttressing effect on slope movements the same way ice shelves hinder the flow of non-floating coastal ice. A sophisticated landslide model estimates a 9-mm eustatic SLR contribution from subsequent landslides.

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D. Ren, M. Lynch and L. Leslie, "An Overlooked Term in Assessment of the Potential Sea-Level Rise from a Collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet," International Journal of Geosciences, Vol. 4 No. 6, 2013, pp. 978-984. doi: 10.4236/ijg.2013.46090.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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