Testing the sensitivity of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet to Southern Ocean dynamics: past changes and future implications

Authors

  • CHRISTOPHER J. FOGWILL,

    Corresponding author
    1. Climate Change Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, Australia
    2. School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
    • Correspondence: Christopher J. Fogwill, 1Climate Change Research Centre, as above.

      E-mail: c.fogwill@unsw.edu.au

    Search for more papers by this author
  • CHRISTIAN S. M. TURNEY,

    1. Climate Change Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, Australia
    2. School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
    Search for more papers by this author
  • KATRIN J. MEISSNER,

    1. Climate Change Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, Australia
    2. School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
    Search for more papers by this author
  • NICHOLAS R. GOLLEDGE,

    1. Antarctic Research Centre, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand
    2. GNS Science, Avalon, Lower Hutt, New Zealand
    Search for more papers by this author
  • PAUL SPENCE,

    1. Climate Change Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, Australia
    Search for more papers by this author
  • JASON L. ROBERTS,

    1. Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, Australian Antarctic Division, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
    2. Antarctic Climate and Ecosystem Cooperative Research Centre, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
    Search for more papers by this author
  • MATHEW H. ENGLAND,

    1. Climate Change Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, Australia
    Search for more papers by this author
  • RICHARD T. JONES,

    1. School of Geography, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK
    Search for more papers by this author
  • LIONEL CARTER

    1. Antarctic Research Centre, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand
    Search for more papers by this author

Errata

This article is corrected by:

  1. Errata: Erratum Volume 29, Issue 5, 508, Article first published online: 15 July 2014

ABSTRACT

The stability of Antarctic ice sheets and their potential contribution to sea level under projected future warming remains highly uncertain. The Last Interglacial (135 000–116 000 years ago) provides a potential analogue, with global temperatures 2 °C higher and rates of sea-level rise >5.6 m ka−1, leading to sea levels 6.6–9.4 m higher than present. The source(s) of this sea-level rise remain fiercely debated. Here we report a series of independent model simulations exploring the effects of migrating Southern Hemisphere Westerlies (SHWs) on Southern Ocean circulation and Antarctic ice-sheet dynamics. We suggest that southerly shifts in winds may have significantly impacted the sub-polar gyres, inducing pervasive warming (0.2–0.8 °C in the upper 1200 m) adjacent to sectors of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet (EAIS), which due to their geometries and connectivity to the Southern Ocean are highly sensitive to ocean forcing. We conclude that the EAIS potentially made a substantial, hitherto unsuspected, contribution to interglacial sea levels, and given 21st-century projections in the Southern Annular Mode and associated SHW migration, we highlight how pervasive circum-Antarctic warming may threaten EAIS stability.

Ancillary