Geology prof lands two articles in prestigious climate change journal

Geology prof lands two articles in prestigious climate change journal

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Dr. Luke Trusel, assistant professor in the Department of Geology within Rowan’s School of Earth & Environment, is a co-author of two papers that ran in the journal Nature Climate Change Nov. 12 and 19.

The articles, “The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets under 1.5 °C global warming,” and “Antarctic surface hydrology and impacts on ice-sheet mass balance,” address rising temperatures at Earth’s poles, increasing melting of the ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland and global repercussions.

Trusel is a glaciologist and climate scientist whose research analyzes the polar regions via satellite observations, ice cores and climate models. The two papers highlight the impacts of rising global temperatures, which may cause the ice sheets to soon enter a phase of irreversible retreat and raise global sea levels for hundreds to thousands of years.

Scientists caution that the ice sheets may soon pass a “tipping point,” beyond which halting their melting may not be possible.

Of the recent studies, Trusel said:

“We show that Antarctica and Greenland will be feeling the effects of today’s climate for a very long time. Think of it like roasting your Thanksgiving turkey.  You need to take it out of the oven and let it sit for a while because it will continue to cook for some time.  The ice sheets are the same way – they will be responding for hundreds to thousands of years based on what we do now and in the near future.  Their future changes will be ‘baked into’ the climate system, even if warming were to stop today.  In terms of emitting greenhouse gases, what we do now and in the near future will dictate how the ice sheets behave for centuries and millennia.

“The worrying thing about the ice sheets is that they both contain tipping points – meaning there’s potential for rapid, irreversible mass loss and sea level contributions.”

Trusel noted that his current research, and that of the international scientific community, is working to understand how much and how fast the ice sheets will change.

“How much ice melts, and how fast, fundamentally relates to how much warming occurs,” he said. “I see this as a reason for hope. We ultimately control that thermostat.”

For more information, visit Trusel’s web site.