Abrupt Climate Change In The Arctic (And Beyond) An Update
AGU Fall Meeting 2013
Our understanding of future Arctic change is informed by the history of past changes, which often have been both large and abrupt. The well-known ice-age events such as the Younger Dryas show how sea-ice changes can amplify forcing to produce very large responses, with wintertime sea ice especially important. These changes are increasingly seen to have played a central role in the ice-age cycling through their global impact on CO2 storage in the deep ocean.
The Heinrich events reveal processes of ice-sheet/ocean interaction, some of which are being played out in Greenland and Antarctica now, and which may have large future effects on sea-level rise. The paleoclimatic record plus physical understanding greatly reduce the worst worries about instabilities from methane stored in cold places, but tend to support a role in amplifying future warming.
Overall, the very large impacts of past Arctic changes, and the likelihood that future changes under business-as-usual fossil-fuel emissions will be unprecedented in combined size and speed, raise important questions.
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