Ice Sheets and SLR Day 2 at COP26

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Nov. 10 (Wednesday): Ice Sheets and SLR II 

10:00    West Antarctica: Getz on the Run

The Getz region of West Antarctica is losing ice at an increasing rate. A recent study used satellite observations and an ice sheet model to measure ice speed and mass balance for this lesser studied area over the last 25-years, and found an average increase in speed of 24 % between 1994 and 2018, with three glaciers accelerating by over 44 %.  Much of the Getz region has never been stepped on by humans; and 9 of the 14 glaciers are unnamed, showing the importance of high resolution satellite data as an early warning system to detect rapid change in this key region of Antarctica.

Organized by the University of Leeds.

Speakers: Dr. Heather Selley, University of Leeds; Dr. Bryony Freer, University of Leeds/British Antarctic Survey

11:30    The Limits of Adaptation

Earth’s ice sheets and glaciers hold nearly 70 meters of sea-level rise, and ice sheets are subject to thresholds where they lose mass for many thousands of years.  Glaciers are losing ice very rapidly, with some disappearing entirely already with current warming; and re-growth may take hundreds of years.  At what level does adaptation become essentially meaningless?  A discussion between cryosphere scientists and people from low-lying nations on the limits of adaptation and need for preventive mitigation.

Organized by the University of Oslo and University of Massachusetts-Amherst

Speakers: Dr. Regine Hock, University of Oslo; Dr. Julie Brigham-Grette, University of Massachusetts Amherst; Dr. Georg Kaser; Lexi Haskins, Arctic Angels; Bangladesh tbc

13:00    Antarctica and Paris Goals: Risks of Massive Sea-level Rise

Recent published research shows the danger of massive, potentially irreversible, global sea-level rise within the next couple of centuries should temperatures overshoot 2°C. Perhaps most sobering, this loss may become rapid and permanent, with no halt in ice loss even should CO2 concentrations return t pre-industrial levels; and rates approaching 5 cm/year by 2150, and 10 meters of sea-level rise by 2300 should today’s emissions levels continue.  IPCC scientists provide a clear-eyed look at risks from Antarctica, and implications for the Paris Agreement temperature goals.

Organized by the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

Speaker: Dr. Julie Brigham-Grette, former Chair, U.S. Polar Research Board

14:30    Greenland’s Future

Greenland is now losing ice mass at three times the rate of the mid-1990’s, and may soon be the largest single contributor to global sea-level rise.  Some studies have found that Greenland’s tipping point may occur at around 1.6°C of sustained warming.  What does the future hold for Greenland’s 6-7 meters of sea-level rise?

Organized by NSIDC

Speaker: Dr. Mark Serreze, Director, NSIDC

16:00    Tale of Two Ice Sheets

The two polar ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica are both losing mass and contributing to sea-level rise, but they have key differences. In particular, AR6 noted that Greenland tends to lose ice, at least in the early stages of ice sheet loss in a more straight-line manner; whereas portions of Antarctica may be subject to relatively sudden collapse.  The two ice sheets also seem to interact with one another via ocean currents.  This event will explore these differences and connections, and their implications for future sea-level rise.

Organized by NSIDC and the University of Massachusetts Amherst

Speakers: Dr. Mark Serreze, NSIDC; Dr. Julie Brigham-Grette, University of Massachusetts Amherst

18:00    Past is Present: Why 1.5° is the Ice Sheet Temperature Limit

At times in the Earth’s past when temperatures were similar to today, sea levels were up to 4 meters higher; by 2°C, they range up to 12 meters higher than today or more.  What does the past tell us about temperature thresholds and risks from global warming causing massive ice sheet loss, even at Paris Agreement-consistent temperatures?  Is a return to pre-industrial temperatures necessary?

Organized by the University of Wisconsin and University of Massachusetts-Amherst

Speakers: Dr. Andrea Dutton, University of Wisconsin (virtual) and Dr. Julie Brigham-Grette, University of Massachusetts Amherst


19:00 Cryosphere ceilidh: Scotland