Mass losses from Earth’s ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland are a major source of global sea level rise. At both poles today, melting at the surface of the ice sheet plays an important, albeit unique role in overall ice sheet mass balance. In Antarctica, surface melting is linked to the abrupt collapses of ice shelves along the Antarctic Peninsula over the last several decades. Glacier acceleration following ice shelf collapse has increased mass losses from Antarctica. In Greenland, surface melting plays a more direct role. Indeed, surface meltwater runoff is the leading mechanism of present-day Greenland ice sheet mass loss. In this presentation, I utilize a synthesis of satellite observations, climate models, and ice core-derived melt records to capture variability in ice sheet surface melt over the recent past, present, and future. On the Antarctic Peninsula, recent surface melt is unprecedented over the last millennium, and is projected to intensify broadly across Antarctic ice shelves over this century closely following emissions scenarios. In Greenland, ice cores reveal that surface melt is similarly unprecedented over at least the last 365 years. At both poles, increasing air temperatures are linked to a non-linear increase in surface melt, underscoring a high sensitivity of ice sheet mass balance to further warming.
Luke Trusel is an Assistant Professor of Geology at Rowan University. His recent research utilizes observations, ice cores, and climate models to quantify and contextualize variability in surface melting across the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. He is broadly interested in ice sheet surface mass balance, and the linkages between the polar regions and the broader Earth system. Prior to joining the faculty at Rowan, Dr. Trusel was a postdoctoral scholar in Geology & Geophysics at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and he received a PhD in Geography in 2014 from Clark University.
All talks are followed by an informal get-together at Pino's in Highland Park, unless otherwise noted.