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  1. Abstract

    Thwaites Ice Shelf (TWIS), the floating extension of Thwaites Glacier, West Antarctica, is changing rapidly and may completely disintegrate in the near future. Any buttressing that the ice shelf provides to the upstream grounded Thwaites glacier will then be lost. Previously, it has been argued that this could lead to onset of dynamical instability and the rapid demise of the entire glacier. Here we provide the first systematic quantitative assessment of how strongly the upstream ice is buttressed by TWIS and how its collapse affects future projections. By modeling the stresses acting along the current grounding line, we show that they deviate insignificantly from the stresses after ice shelf collapse. Using three ice‐flow models, we furthermore model the transient evolution of Thwaites Glacier and find that a complete disintegration of the ice shelf will not substantially impact future mass loss over the next 50 years.

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  2. Abstract

    Coupled ice sheet‐ocean models are beginning to be used to study the response of ice sheets to ocean warming. Initializing an ice‐ocean model is challenging and can introduce nonphysical transients, and the extent to which such transients can affect model projections is unclear. We use a synchronously‐coupled ice‐ocean model to investigate evolution of Pope, Smith and Kohler Glaciers, West Antarctica, over the next half‐century. Two methods of initialization are used: In one, the ice‐sheet model is constrained with observed velocities in its initial state; in another, the model is constrained with both velocities and grounded thinning rates over a 4‐year period. Each method is applied to two basal sliding laws. For each resulting initialization, two climate scenarios are considered: one where ocean conditions during the initialization period persist indefinitely, and one where the ocean is in a permanent “warm” state. At first, model runs initialized with thinning data exhibit volume loss rates much closer to observed values than those initialized with velocity only, but after 1–2 decades, the forcing primarily determines rates of volume loss and grounding line retreat. Such behavior is seen for both basal sliding laws, although volume loss rates differ quantitatively. Under the “warm” scenario, a grounding line retreat of ∼30 km is simulated for Smith and Kohler, although variation in total retreat due to initialization is nearly as large as that due to forcing. Furthermore it is questionable whether retreat will continue due to narrowing of submarine troughs and limiting of heat transport by bathymetric obstacles.

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  5. We present a novel source attribution approach that incorporates satellite data into GEOS-Chem adjoint simulations to characterize the species-specific, regional, and sectoral contributions of daily emissions for 3 air pollutants: fine particulate matter (PM2.5), ozone (O3), and nitrogen dioxide (NO2). This approach is implemented for Washington, DC, first for 2011, to identify urban pollution sources, and again for 2016, to examine the pollution response to changes in anthropogenic emissions. In 2011, anthropogenic emissions contributed an estimated 263 (uncertainty: 130–444) PM2.5- and O3-attributable premature deaths and 1,120 (391–1795) NO2 attributable new pediatric asthma cases in DC. PM2.5 exposure was responsible for 90% of these premature deaths. On-road vehicle emissions contributed 51% of NO2-attributable new asthma cases and 23% of pollution-attributable premature deaths, making it the largest contributing individual sector to DC’s air pollution–related health burden. Regional emissions, originating from Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania, were the most responsible for pollution-related health impacts in DC, contributing 57% of premature deaths impacts and 89% of asthma cases. Emissions from distant states contributed 34% more to PM2.5 exposure in the wintertime than in the summertime, occurring in parallel with strong wintertime westerlies and a reduced photochemical sink. Emission reductions between 2011 and 2016 resulted in health benefits of 76 (28–149) fewer pollution-attributable premature deaths and 227 (2–617) fewer NO2-attributable pediatric asthma cases. The largest sectors contributing to decreases in pollution-related premature deaths were energy generation units (26%) and on-road vehicles (20%). Decreases in NO2-attributable pediatric asthma cases were mostly due to emission reductions from on-road vehicles (63%). Emission reductions from energy generation units were found to impact PM2.5 more than O3, while on-road vehicle emission reductions impacted O3 proportionally more than PM2.5. This novel method is capable of capturing the sources of urban pollution at fine spatial and temporal scales and is applicable to many urban environments, globally. 
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  6. Abstract

    Active subglacial lakes have been identified throughout Antarctica, offering a window into subglacial environments and their impact on ice sheet mass balance. Here we use high‐resolution altimetry measurements from 2010 to 2019 to show that a lake system under the Thwaites Glacier undertook a large episode of activity in 2017, only four years after the system underwent a substantial drainage event. Our observations suggest significant modifications of the drainage system between the two events, with 2017 experiencing greater upstream discharge, faster lake‐to‐lake connectivity, and the transfer of water within a closed system. Measured rates of lake recharge during the inter‐drainage period are 137% larger than modeled estimates, suggesting processes that drive subglacial meltwater production, such as geothermal heat flux or basal friction, are currently underestimated.

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