Topics - Sea Level Rise, Ocean/Ice Shelf Interactions and Ice Sheets

The following provides a list of some key questions. Some of them have been previously raised in the outcomes of previous workshops [e.g. the Breakout Group Reports contained in IPCC, 2010] and remain as significant challenges to the scientific community. We hope that the workshop participants will address these and other related questions in their presentations, posters, and discussions.


1.     Sea-level rise: What are the main contributions to sea-level rise? What are the relative contributions of, for example, steric changes in the ocean versus addition of mass to the ocean from land-ice sources?


2.     Ocean/ice-shelf interactions: What is the state-of-science in both the observation and modeling of sub-ice shelf processes? How might these processes change in a changing climate? What are the relative roles of basal melt, basal accretion, and calving, in determining the current and future evolution of ice-shelves? How might changes in mean or extreme winds affect ice-shelves? What role might be played by sea-ice in buffering ice-shelves from tides and surface waves? What are the effects of increased ice-shelf meltwater injection on local ocean/sea-ice interactions?


3.     Ice-sheet observation and modeling: How well do we understand the current mass balance, including its spatial variability, of the Antarctic and Greenland ice-sheets? What is the state-of-science in ice-sheet modeling? What are the relative roles of ice dynamics and of surface mass balance in determining current and future changes?


4.     Ice-sheet/ice-shelf interactions: How will possible increased melting or break-up of ice-shelves affect ice-sheets? What is the role of ice-shelves on adjoining ice stream dynamics? How well are dynamical ice-sheet models able to simulate ice flow? Are these models capable of predicting the response to changes in the system?


5.     Ocean modeling: Which of the identified processes contributing to sea-level rise are well represented by current ocean models? What is the relative importance of steric contributions to sea-level rise compared to the mass induced contributions from ice-sheet melting? How well are ocean and coupled climate models able to predict changes in ocean warming at the ice-sheet margins? What role might sea-ice or polynyas play in moderating or amplifying ocean changes at the ice-sheet margins? How can the use of observations enlighten our understanding of ocean and sea-ice processes adjacent to Greenland and Antarctica? How can we reduce long-term drift in ocean climate models?


6.     Next-generation climate models: How will our understanding of both global and regional sea-level rise change as ocean and climate models go to higher spatial resolution? What are the key development pathways towards fully coupled climate and ice-sheet models?