[], Center/CIRES, Department of Geography, University of Colorado, Boulder

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Ice Sheet Responses to Past and Current Climate Forcings
Waleed Abdalati [[email protected]], Earth Science and Observation
Center/CIRES, Department of Geography, University of Colorado, Boulder
As little as a decade ago, it was believed that ice sheet responses to changes in climate
occurred on time scales on the order of centuries to millennia. Observations of the past
decade, however, have revealed that climate perturbations, combined with the geologic
conditions of the ice sheets, lead to nearly immediate response times of as little as days or
even hours. Much of our understanding of this short-term ice sheet-climate coupling has
evolved as a result of satellite and airborne remote sensing techniques. The context, scale,
and perspective provided by these observational capabilities are revolutionizing our
understanding of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, revealing changes that are in some
cases much more dramatic than were ever expected. From collapsing ice shelves to
accelerating outlet glaciers, and increasingly negative ice sheet mass balance, remote sensing
capabilities are providing important insights into ice sheet behavior and their current and
potential contributions for sea level rise. When coupled with in situ observations and robust
process models, these large-scale four-dimensional observational capabilities are helping us
understand the nature of the changing ice cover, the processes that govern it, and what the
implications may be for life on Earth.