Project synopsis

TiPACCs is a European Horizon 2020 research project investigating the possibility of sudden and large changes in Antarctic Climate Components. Recently, researchers found relatively warm waters below Antarctic ice shelves, indicating that the Antarctic continental shelf seas can tip from a ‘cold’ to a ‘warm’ state. Concurrently, recent research indicates that ice sheets, especially the parts of the ice sheet that rest on a bed below sea level, are prone to an unstable and irreversible retreat. The change in these two components (cold-to-warm ocean, and stability regime of the Antarctic Ice Sheet) are linked through to the impact that ice shelves can have on the upstream ice sheet and on the ocean below. If irreversible changes occur in the Antarctic components, and so-called tipping points are crossed, the ice sheet will likely quickly retreat, causing a dramatic increase in global mean sea level.

Start Date

1. August 2019

End Date

31. July 2023

Consortium size

6 partners

Total EC contribution

4.6 million Euro

TiPACCs Objectives

The overall aim of TiPACCs is to assess the likelihood of large and abrupt near-future changes in the contribution of the Antarctic Ice Sheet to global sea level, caused by tipping points in the Antarctic continental shelf seas and the Antarctic Ice Sheet.

More specifically, TiPACCs has the following primary scientific objectives:

  • Determine the changes in surface forcing required to switch the Antarctic continental shelf seas from cold to warm state (Ocean Tipping Point), and to quantify the resulting changes in ocean-induced ice-shelf basal melting.
  • Determine the stability regime of the grounding lines of the Antarctic Ice Sheet and the existence of tipping points with respect to ice-shelf melting (Ice Sheet Tipping Point).
  • Determine the impacts that a switch in the ocean state from cold to warm has on the stability regime of the grounding lines and the resulting implications for global sea level.
  • Provide a list of early warning indicators for the Tipping Points in the Antarctic Climate Components, and disseminate our improved understanding of the processes and impact of the tipping points to general public, policy makers and governmental panels

TiPACCs Concept and methodology

We will achieve our objectives using a suite of state-of-the art ocean-circulation and ice-flow models. The multi-model approach will greatly enhance confidence in the results. We will combine the numerical work with existing in-situ ocean observations, remote sensing data and paleo-reconstructions to define the proximity of the simulated tipping points.