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Antarctic Ice Sheet Dynamics and Global Sea Level (AISSL)

Understanding how ice sheets have responded in the past to changes in the Earth System, and influenced it, and how they will do so in the future, so affecting sea-level rise, are questions of great international interest and urgency. Indeed, the Horizon Scan made clear that this is one of a small handful of international interdisciplinary scientific endeavours that SCAR should be facilitating. The global community will be depending on Antarctic scientists to deliver progress in this area, in collaboration with their colleagues across the globe.

The AISSL PPG will develop a SCAR Scientific Research Programme to address this need. The outcomes of the programme will be of broad interest to decision-makers, civil society, business, industry, agricultural, infrastructure, finance and insurance sectors.. The programme provides a co-ordinating framework that will augment other important research initiatives and consortia.

The new programme will aim to quantify the Antarctic ice sheet contribution to past and future sea-level change, from improved understanding of climate, ocean and solid Earth interactions and feedbacks, so that decision-makers can better anticipate and assess the risk in order to manage and adapt to sea-level rise and evaluate mitigation pathways.

The programme is structured into four themes:

  1. Improved understanding of atmosphere-ocean forcing processes of marine-based ice sheet dynamics.
  2. Improved understanding of solid Earth feedbacks on ice sheet dynamics and regional sea-level variations.
  3. Improved understanding of spatial and temporal changes in Antarctica’s ice sheets during the LGM and deglaciation, and for past “warmer-than-present” interglacials and high CO2 worlds.
  4. Improved projections of Antarctic contribution global sea-level change – consequences and impacts.

The outcomes will include improved projections, and their associated risk profiles that will be of of broad interest to decision-makers, civil society, business, industry, agricultural, infrastructure, finance and insurance sectors.

A key focus for the new programme, and thus part of the Proposed Planning Group’s remit, is to ensure that the new programmes builds capacity in the SCAR community. The programme will build on best practice from existing SRPs where there have been considerable successes in running summer schools, training courses, online webinars, ensuring Early Career Researchers (ECR) and those from newer Antarctic programmes work closely on the science questions. This has often involved close working with APECS, and we include some members in the core membership and will seek increasing engagement with the ECR community as we approach the start of a programme.