Climatic Effect of Antarctic Meltwater Overwhelmed by Concurrent Northern Hemispheric Melt

R. F. Ivanovic, L. J. Gregoire, A. D. Wickert, A. Burke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Records indicate that 14,500 years ago, sea level rose by 12–22 m in under 340 years. However, the source of the sea level rise remains contentious, partly due to the competing climatic impact of different hemispheric contributions. Antarctic meltwater could indirectly strengthen the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), causing northern warming, whereas Northern Hemisphere ice sheet meltwater has the opposite effect. This story has recently become more intriguing, due to increasing evidence for sea level contributions from both hemispheres. Using a coupled climate model with freshwater forcing, we demonstrate that the climatic influence of southern-sourced meltwater is overridden by northern sources even when the Antarctic flux is double the North American contribution. This is because the Southern Ocean is quickly resalinized by Antarctic Circumpolar water. These results imply that the pattern of surface climate changes caused by ice sheet melting cannot be used to fingerprint the hemispheric source of the meltwater.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5681-5689
Number of pages9
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 16 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
R. F. I. is funded by Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) grant NE/K008536/1. Numerical climate model simulations made use of the N8 HPC Centre of Excellence (N8 consortium and EPSRC grant EP/K000225/1) and the University of Leeds Physical Climate Change Research Group high-performance computing resources. We are grateful to Piers Forster for helpful comments, to three anonymous reviewers for very constructive suggestions, and to Janet Sprintall for swift editorial handling. Presented model data are available from the University of Leeds Research Data repository, 10.5518/395.

Publisher Copyright:
©2018. The Authors.


  • AMOC
  • MWP1a
  • hosing
  • ice sheets
  • meltwater
  • stability


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