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Kinematic constraints on glacier contributions to 21st-century sea-level rise

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Full Publication: http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1159099

Product Type: Journal Article

Year: 2008

Authors: Pfeffer, W. T., J. T. Harper, and S. R. O'Neel


Suggested Citation:
Pfeffer, W. T., J. T. Harper, and S. R. O'Neel. 2008. Kinematic constraints on glacier contributions to 21st-century sea-level rise. Science 321(5894):1340-1343. doi:10.1126/science.1159099

Abstract


On the basis of climate modeling and analogies with past conditions, the potential for multimeter increases in sea level by the end of the 21st century has been proposed. We consider glaciological conditions required for large sea-level rise to occur by 2100 and conclude that increases in excess of 2 meters are physically untenable. We find that a total sea-level rise of about 2 meters by 2100 could occur under physically possible glaciological conditions but only if all variables are quickly accelerated to extremely high limits. More plausible but still accelerated conditions lead to total sea-level rise by 2100 of about 0.8 meter. These roughly constrained scenarios provide a "most likely" starting point for refinements in sea-level forecasts that include ice flow dynamics.

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