Ice Sheets and Global Warming

Diagram shows retreat of the glacier.

A study authored by UB scientists and their colleagues for the first time documents in detail the dynamics of parts of Greenland’s ice sheet, important data that have long been missing from the ice sheet models on which projections about sea-level rise and global warming are based. Results appeared in the January 2008 issue of Journal of Glaciology.

Traditionally, ice sheet models are very simplified, according to Beata Csatho, assistant professor of geology and lead author of the paper. “Ice sheet models usually don’t include all the complexity of ice dynamics that can happen in nature,” says Csatho. “This research will give ice sheet modelers more precise, more detailed data.”

Furthermore, the implications of these richer datasets may be dramatic, Csatho says. “If current climate models from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change included data from ice dynamics in Greenland, the sea-level rise estimated during this century could be twice as high as what they are currently projecting,” she points out.