Modeling Long-Term Changes in Climate, Ice Sheets and Sea Level: Using the Paleo Record to Understand Possibilities for the Future

  • Date:
  • Time: 16:00 - 17:00 followed by refreshments
  • Venue: SEE Seminar rooms 8.119
  • Speaker: Bette Otto-Bliesner, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado


The Greenland Ice Sheet is expected to contribute increasingly to global sea level rise by the end of this century, and potentially several meters in this millennium, but still with considerable uncertainty. The rate and amount of Greenland melt will impact regional sea levels. The Last Interglacial (~129,000 to 116,000 years ago) is recognized as an important period for testing our knowledge of climate-ice sheet interactions in warm climate states. Although the Last Interglacial was discussed in the First Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), it gained more prominence in the IPCC Fourth and Fifth Assessment (AR4 and AR5) with recent reconstructions highlighting that global mean sea level reached 6 to 9 meters higher than present for several thousand years during the Last Interglacial. In this talk, I will describe my project to examine the response of the Arctic climate system and the Greenland Ice Sheet in simulations with the Community Earth System Model (CESM) fully coupled to the Community Ice Sheet Model (CISM). Specific emphasis will be on how the Arctic climate and Greenland ice sheet respond to the forcing of high boreal summer insolation during the Last Interglacial and the importance of long-term feedbacks.


Dr Bette L. Otto-Bliesner is a Senior Scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado and Leverhulme Trust Visiting Professor at the University of Leeds. Her research focuses on using computer-based models of Earth’s climate system to investigate past climate change and climate variability across a wide range of time scales. She has authored > 170 articles and was a Lead Author for the IPCC AR4 and AR5. She is a member of the Scientific Steering Committee for the Paleoclimate Modeling Intercomparison Project (PMIP), the group that coordinates international climate model experiments addressing past climate change relevant to understanding future change.