Partitioning the Uncertainty of Ensemble Projections of Global Glacier Mass Change

Ben Marzeion*, Regine Hock, Brian Anderson, Andrew Bliss, Nicolas Champollion, Koji Fujita, Matthias Huss, Walter W. Immerzeel, Philip Kraaijenbrink, Jan Hendrik Malles, Fabien Maussion, Valentina Radić, David R. Rounce, Akiko Sakai, Sarah Shannon, Roderik van de Wal, Harry Zekollari

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)
31 Downloads (Pure)


Glacier mass loss is recognized as a major contributor to current sea level rise. However, large uncertainties remain in projections of glacier mass loss on global and regional scales. We present an ensemble of 288 glacier mass and area change projections for the 21st century based on 11 glacier models using up to 10 general circulation models and four Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs) as boundary conditions. We partition the total uncertainty into the individual contributions caused by glacier models, general circulation models, RCPs, and natural variability. We find that emission scenario uncertainty is growing throughout the 21st century and is the largest source of uncertainty by 2100. The relative importance of glacier model uncertainty decreases over time, but it is the greatest source of uncertainty until the middle of this century. The projection uncertainty associated with natural variability is small on the global scale but can be large on regional scales. The projected global mass loss by 2100 relative to 2015 (79 ± 56 mm sea level equivalent for RCP2.6, 159 ± 86 mm sea level equivalent for RCP8.5) is lower than, but well within, the uncertainty range of previous projections.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2019EF001470
JournalEarth's Future
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2020


  • glacier
  • modeling
  • projections
  • sea level rise
  • uncertainties


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