KlimaCampus Kolloquium: Beyond gradual change – Antarctic ice dynamics and tipping points

The Antarctic Ice Sheet is by far the largest potential source of future sea-level change, holding enough water to raise global sea level by 58 m. To this day, the complex dynamics of the ice sheet and its surrounding ice shelves are one of the key challenges for sea-level projections. Recent observations show that part of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is rapidly retreating, and that this retreat is likely irreversible on human timescales. Other regions are currently protected by ice plugs, hindering the onset of a dynamic instability. In her talk, Ricarda will discuss the underlying mechanisms and critical thresholds for triggering persistent ice discharge from Antarctic basins. As a consequence, sea-level might continue to rise for centuries or even millennia to come. This long-term perspective illustrates that policy decisions made in the next years to decades will have profound impacts on global climate and sea-level - not just for this century, but for the next millennia and beyond.

Ricarda Winkelmann is a climate scientist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) in Germany and teaches climate physics as junior professor at Potsdam University. Trained as a mathematician and theoretical physicist in Germany and the United States, her research focuses on Antarctic ice-dynamics, future sea-level rise and tipping elements in the Earth System. Ricarda is co-developer of the open-source Parallel Ice Sheet Model (PISM). She is an active member of the German Young Academy of Science and contributing author to the sea-level chapter of the last IPCC Assessment Report. She was named Young Scientist of the Year 2018 by academics and Die ZEIT publishing group. Most recently, she became a member of the newly-launched Earth Commission by Future Earth.




15:15 h


Bundesstr. 53, room 022/023
Seminar Room 022/023, Ground Floor, Bundesstrasse 53, 20146 Hamburg, Hamburg


Ricarda Winkelmann, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research


Jochem Marotzke

Back to listing