To melt or not to melt, that is the question… The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are the most uncertain source of future sea level. Understanding how the ice sheets will evolve in a warming world is a pressing societal question. To understand what the future coastlines may look like and how rapid this change will be, we need to understand how ice sheets interact with the Earth’s climate.
We can understand the current state of ice sheets from satellite, airborne or ground observations, but to understand the future, we need to use models. We also need to use models to fully understand the factors that impact the current ice sheets, since some of the key factors that affect ice sheets are difficult to observe. Ice sheets are dynamic systems that respond to changes in the ocean and atmosphere, so understanding the future evolution of ice sheets, requires an understanding of ice-ocean and ice-atmosphere interactions and how to capture these in models.