Rising seas pose a major threat to societal welfare, and polar ice sheet instability will be the driving force of sea level rise in the next decades. This is arguably the most critical problem of all geosciences: Rapid sea level rise will displace hundreds of millions of people living near-shore. The predicted rate of ice sheet and sea level change is central to designing mitigation and adaption strategies for the next century, but understanding of the rate of ice sheet melt remains limited.
Joerg Schaefer and Gisela Winckler, both research professors at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, will produce the first comprehensive direct record of the past dynamics of the Greenland Ice Sheet; an update on sea level predictions; and the first analysis of its impact on societies. This project builds on their recent research, which indicates that Greenland was nearly de-glaciated for extended periods of time during the recent geologic past (~two million years), and in turn makes the case that the Greenland Ice Sheet is highly vulnerable.
The goal of this new study is to evaluate the past variability of the Greenland Ice Sheet to improve future sea level predictions and explore the impacts of rising sea levels on life and society.