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Robert M. DeConto - University of Massachusetts Amherst. Amherst, MA, US

Robert M. DeConto

Professor of and Earth, Geographic, and Climate Sciences and Director of the School of Earth and Sustainability | University of Massachusetts Amherst


Rob DeConto is one of the world's leading experts on modeling polar ice sheets, sea level rise and ocean response to climate change.

Expertise (8)

Ice Sheets and Sea Level




Earth System Modeling

Sea Level Rise


Ice Sheets


One of the world's leading experts on modeling polar ice sheets, sea-level rise and ocean response to climate change, Rob DeConto has been sought after by publications including National Geographic, the BBC, the New York Times, and the Washington Post for commentary on the effect of climate change on the Earth. He also has a particular expertise in what sea level rise will mean for the New England coast, and how coastal cities can prepare.

He serves on a number of national and international science boards and he is a recipient of the Tinker-Muse Prize for Science and Policy in Antarctica.

Social Media





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Report on Climate Change (DeConto begins at 32:00) Melting Ice, Rising Seas (Part Four) - Prof Rob DeConto, University of Massachusetts Rob DeConto PhD: Sea Level Rise from Antarctic Cliff Failure


Education (1)

University of Colorado: Ph.D.

Select Recent Media Coverage (9)

As sea level rise accelerates, Boston is ‘deep into overtime’ to build coastal protections by 2030

The Boston Globe  print


Rob DeConto comments in an article reporting that while sea level rise in Boston broke records in 2023, the city’s climate resilience plan is lagging. DeConto says that Boston is likely to have a waterline 5 to 11 inches higher by the end of the decade than in 2000, regardless of what’s done to cut greenhouse gas emissions, and is likely locked into about one foot of sea level rise by the middle of the century.

sea level rise

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Antarctica is warming faster than anywhere else on Earth. Are tourists making it worse?

The Boston Globe  print


Robert DeConto, director of the School of Earth & Sustainability, comments on how tourism is making climate change in Antarctica worse. “I can see the allure,” he says. “You’ve got this really stunning physical environment and amazing ecosystem before your eyes. But the environment and the wildlife down there are so fragile that it’s sensitive to any sort of disruption by human travel. This is a place that is intended to remain pristine.”

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Octopus DNA seems to confirm scientists’ theory about a long-standing geological mystery

CNN  online


Robert M. DeConto , has co-authored a perspective commentary on a new study that used octopus DNA to identify when the rapidly melting West Antarctic ice sheet last collapsed. DeConto, who was not involved in the study, writes that the work “posed some intriguing questions, including whether this history will be repeated, given Earth’s current temperature trajectory.

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2 degrees, 40 feet: Scientists who study Earth’s ice say we could be committed to disastrous sea level rise

NBC News  tv


Rob DeConto discusses a new report by an international initiative they are members of that finds ice sheets are melting faster than expected. “We might be reaching these temperature thresholds that we’ve been talking about for a long time sooner than we were thinking about years ago,” he says, warning that we could be facing sea-level rise outside the range of adaptability.


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Dire Report On Climate Change Released

NECN  tv


A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is painting a bleak picture of the future, if we don’t do something now to reduce our carbon emissions. Natalie spoke with one of the authors of the report, Robert DeConto.

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Eye-opening NOAA report on rising sea levels 'a global wake-up call'



Rob Deconto, geosciences, is interviewed extensively in a story on the recent NOAA report on rising sea levels that serve as a global wake-up call. “Beyond 2050, we need to be able to adapt to the potential for much, much higher sea levels,” Deconto says. “So whatever planning we do, infrastructure that we build, it needs to be adaptable with the consideration that the sea level could be very, very high.”

rob deconto being interviewed

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Emissions Cuts Could Drop the Impact of Melting Ice on Oceans by Half

The New York Times  print


This New York Times article is part of worldwide coverage of new research led by UMass Amherst's Rob DeConto finding that limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius could reduce sea level rise from melting glaciers and the vast Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets from about 10 inches to about five by 2100.

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Antarctica's ice sheet is critical to the fate of coastal cities. How much it will melt remains a big question

CNN  tv


Rob DeConto, a climate scientist and glaciologist at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst is lead author of a new study showing that a tipping point for Antarctica's ice sheet likely exists somewhere in between 2 and 3 degrees Celsius of warming, but exactly where is difficult to pinpoint. "We don't know exactly where it is," Deconto said. "I'd like to hope that we're wrong and it's somewhere well above 3 degrees (Celsius)."

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Emissions Cuts Could Drop the Impact of Melting Ice on Oceans by Half

The New York Times  print


A new study led by Rob DeConto looked at Antarctica ice found that overshooting targets and reaching 3 degrees Celsius of warming — which the world is roughly on track to do, given current pledges to cut emissions — could trigger an abrupt increase in the rate of melting around 2060, and drive a rate at the end of the century that would be 10 times faster than today.

melting ice sheet

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Select Publications (1)

The Paris Climate Agreement and future sea-level rise from Antarctica


Robert M. DeConto et al


Professor DeConto describes new research he led that showed the world is on track to exceed three degrees Celsius of global warming, a scenario that would drastically accelerate the pace of sea-level rise by 2100.

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