The gravitationally consistent sea- level fingerprint of future terrestrial ice loss

G. Spada*, J. L. Bamber, R. T. W. L. Hurkmans

*Corresponding author for this work

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

37 Citations (Scopus)


We solve the sea-level equation to investigate the pattern of the gravitationally self-consistent sea-level variations (fingerprints) corresponding to modeled scenarios of future terrestrial ice melt. These were obtained from separate ice dynamics and surface mass balance models for the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets and by a regionalized mass balance model for glaciers and ice caps. For our mid-range scenario, the ice melt component of total sea-level change attains its largest amplitude in the equatorial oceans, where we predict a cumulative sea-level rise of similar to 25 cm and rates of change close to 3mm/yr from ice melt alone by 2100. According to our modeling, in low-elevation densely populated coastal zones, the gravitationally consistent sea-level variations due to continental ice loss will range between 50 and 150% of the global mean. This includes the effects of glacial-isostatic adjustment, which mostly contributes across the lateral forebulge regions in North America. While the mid range ocean-averaged elastic-gravitational sea-level variations compare with those associated with thermal expansion and ocean circulation, their combination shows a complex regional pattern, where the former component dominates in the Equatorial Pacific Ocean and the latter in the Arctic Ocean. Citation: Spada G., J. L. Bamber, and R. T. W. L. Hurkmans (2012), The gravitationally consistent sea-level fingerprint of future terrestrial ice loss, Geophys. Res. Lett., 40, 482-486, doi:10.1029/2012GL053000.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)482-486
Number of pages5
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 16 Feb 2013


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