The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets under 1.5 °C global warming

Frank Pattyn*, Catherine Ritz, Edward Hanna, Xylar Asay-Davis, Rob DeConto, Gaël Durand, Lionel Favier, Xavier Fettweis, Heiko Goelzer, Nicholas R. Golledge, Peter Kuipers Munneke, Jan T.M. Lenaerts, Sophie Nowicki, Antony J. Payne, Alexander Robinson, Hélène Seroussi, Luke D. Trusel, Michiel van den Broeke

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article (Academic Journal)peer-review

62 Citations (Scopus)


Even if anthropogenic warming were constrained to less than 2 °C above pre-industrial, the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets will continue to lose mass this century, with rates similar to those observed over the past decade. However, nonlinear responses cannot be excluded, which may lead to larger rates of mass loss. Furthermore, large uncertainties in future projections still remain, pertaining to knowledge gaps in atmospheric (Greenland) and oceanic (Antarctica) forcing. On millennial timescales, both ice sheets have tipping points at or slightly above the 1.5–2.0 °C threshold; for Greenland, this may lead to irreversible mass loss due to the surface mass balance–elevation feedback, whereas for Antarctica, this could result in a collapse of major drainage basins due to ice-shelf weakening.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1053-1061
Number of pages9
JournalNature Climate Change
Issue number12
Early online date12 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018


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