Evidence of an unusually warm 21st century Arctic

Written by Olivier Gagliardini.

adrien GRL2017

As a remnant of the Laurentide Ice Sheet, Barnes Ice Cap owes its existence and present form in part to the climate of the last glacial period. The ice cap has been sustained in the present interglacial climate by its own topography through the mass balance-elevation feedback. A coupled mass balance and ice-flow model, forced by Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 climate model output, projects that the current ice cap will likely disappear in the next 300 years. For greenhouse gas Representative Concentration Pathways of +2.6 to +8.5 W/m2, the projected ice-cap survival times range from 150 to 530 years. Measured concentrations of cosmogenic radionuclides 10Be, 26Al, and 14C at sites exposed near the ice-cap margin suggest the pending disappearance of Barnes Ice Cap is very unusual in the last million years. The data and models together point to an exceptionally warm 21st century Arctic climate.

More information: Gilbert, A., G. E. Flowers, G. H. Miller, K. A. Refsnider, N. E. Young, and V. Radić, 2017. The projected demise of Barnes Ice Cap: Evidence of an unusually warm 21st century Arctic, Geophys. Res. Lett., 44, doi:10.1002/2016GL072394.

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