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Ice and High Water - the Contribution of Polar Ice to Present and Future Sea-Level Rise

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The future security and prosperity of Europe’s coastal cities and survival of many unique coastal habitats requires scientists to deliver reliable sea-level projections which will form the basis of adaptation, management and protection planning for vulnerable coastal regions. Most of the contributions to sea-level rise can now be predicted with some confidence; the greatest remaining uncertainty lies in the contribution ice-loss from the polar ice sheets resting on Antarctica and Greenland. Indeed, the IPCC ’s 2007 assessment contained a limited confidence in statements concerning the future contribution of ice sheet to sea-level rise. In this talk, I will highlight the recent progress that has allowed us to measure current ice-loss from Arctic glaciers and Greenland, and the key vulnerabilities that may lead to substantial loss in future, to irreversible ice- and eventually lead sheet retreat. I explain the relationship between global sea-level rise, and what we actually see along particular sectors of the coasts, and how sea-level rise will impact the frequency of damaging flood events on timescales ranging from years to centuries. I will talk about current work being undertaken at British Antarctic Survey to address these and other significant science questions, and the opportunities for UK scientists to develop science in Antarctica.

This talk is part of the Trinity College Science Society (TCSS) series.

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