High climate model dependency of Pliocene Antarctic ice-sheet predictions

Aisling M. Dolan*, Bas De Boer, Jorge Bernales, Daniel J. Hill, Alan M. Haywood

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The mid-Pliocene warm period provides a natural laboratory to investigate the long-term response of the Earth's ice-sheets and sea level in a warmer-than-present-day world. Proxy data suggest that during the warm Pliocene, portions of the Antarctic ice-sheets, including West Antarctica could have been lost. Ice-sheet modelling forced by Pliocene climate model outputs is an essential way to improve our understanding of ice-sheets during the Pliocene. However, uncertainty exists regarding the degree to which results are model-dependent. Using climatological forcing from an international climate modelling intercomparison project, we demonstrate the high dependency of Antarctic ice-sheet volume predictions on the climate model-based forcing used. In addition, the collapse of the vulnerable marine basins of Antarctica is dependent on the ice-sheet model used. These results demonstrate that great caution is required in order to avoid making unsound statements about the nature of the Pliocene Antarctic ice-sheet based on model results that do not account for structural uncertainty in both the climate and ice sheet models.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2799
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jul 2018
Externally publishedYes


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