West Antarctic Ice Sheet Workshop

  • November 29, 2022
  • Brief,Home Page Feature
  • Rocky Mountain Elk

    Rocky Mountain Elk were a common sight in between science sessions on ice and climate.

    calving in projections of Thwaites Glacier

    Figure 1. Highlight from Trevor Hillebrand’s talk: Including evolving calving in projections of Thwaites Glacier through 2100 leads to ice speedup and greater retreat of grounded ice (pink line).

    The West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) Initiative held its 29th annual WAIS Workshop at the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park, CO, USA, from September 26-29, 2022.

    The NSF- and NASA-sponsored WAIS Workshop hosts transdisciplinary and societally critical science focused on marine ice-sheet and adjacent earth systems, with particular emphasis on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. The 2022 workshop hosted about 100 attendees in-person[*] and was also live-streamed, allowing real-time engagement from the global community through an online interface. The beautiful YMCA of the Rockies venue — adjacent to Rocky Mountain National Park — offered a serene setting for interactions between participants in scientific sessions, at meals, around the fire pit, and on hikes and walks.



    The WAIS 2022 agenda was organized around six main themes:

    • Observational and modeling gaps
    • Improving predictability
    • Atmospheric and oceanic drivers
    • Marine ice sheet sensitivity in the climate system
    • Antarctic Open Science
    • WAIS and the Community


    Projections of the Antarctic Ice Sheet

    Figure 2. Highlight from Holly Han’s talk: Projections of the Antarctic Ice Sheet through 2300 using the ice-sheet model, MALI, coupled to a sea-level model. A large amount of ice thinning in marine-based sectors of the ice sheet leads to relative bedrock uplift of hundreds of meters, which slows ice-sheet retreat.

    E3SM related content


    The E3SM related projects (so called E3SM “ecosystem” projects) and E3SM model were well represented, including presentations on improved Antarctic Ice Sheet projections from E3SM’s ice-sheet component, MALI, accounting for better representation of the physical processes of iceberg calving and glacier isostatic adjustment (see Fig. 1, 2). Additionally, work on modeling and observations of ice-shelf basal melting from the E3SM ecosystem team highlighted E3SM’s ocean expertise. These contributions helped round out the aim of the WAIS Workshop to address Antarctic science through the coalescence of theory, field observations, remote sensing, multi-scale modeling across paleo, modern, and future timescales. The science discussions were supplemented by perspectives from NASA and NSF program managers, discussion around the health of the research community, and actionable community discussions. As always, the WAIS Workshop proved to be a fantastic opportunity to interact with the larger Antarctic research community.

    [*] The in-person format employed a mask policy and provided daily COVID rapid tests for all participants.

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