Tipping Points in Antarctic Climate Components

TiPACCs is a European Horizon 2020 research project investigating the possibility of sudden and large changes in Antarctic Climate Components. Recently, researchers found relatively warm waters below Antarctic ice shelves, indicating that the Antarctic continental shelf seas can tip from a ‘cold’ to a ‘warm’ state. Concurrently, recent research indicates that ice sheets, especially the parts of the ice sheet that rest on a bed below sea level, are prone to an unstable and irreversible retreat. The change in these two components (cold-to-warm ocean, and stability regime of the Antarctic Ice Sheet) are linked through to the impact that ice shelves can have on the upstream ice sheet and on the ocean below. If irreversible changes occur in the Antarctic components, and so-called tipping points are crossed, the ice sheet will likely quickly retreat, causing a dramatic increase in global mean sea level.