Articles | Volume 10, issue 3
Ocean Sci., 10, 485–500, 2014
Ocean Sci., 10, 485–500, 2014

Research article 19 Jun 2014

Research article | 19 Jun 2014

The land-ice contribution to 21st-century dynamic sea level rise

T. Howard1, J. Ridley1, A. K. Pardaens1, R. T. W. L. Hurkmans2, A. J. Payne2, R. H. Giesen3, J. A. Lowe1, J. L. Bamber2, T. L. Edwards2, and J. Oerlemans3 T. Howard et al.
  • 1Met Office Hadley Centre, FitzRoy Road, Exeter, EX1 3PB, UK
  • 2Bristol Glaciology Centre, School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol, University Road, Bristol, BS8 1SS, UK
  • 3Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research Utrecht, Utrecht University, P.O. Box 80005, 3508 TA Utrecht, the Netherlands

Abstract. Climate change has the potential to influence global mean sea level through a number of processes including (but not limited to) thermal expansion of the oceans and enhanced land ice melt. In addition to their contribution to global mean sea level change, these two processes (among others) lead to local departures from the global mean sea level change, through a number of mechanisms including the effect on spatial variations in the change of water density and transport, usually termed dynamic sea level changes.

In this study, we focus on the component of dynamic sea level change that might be given by additional freshwater inflow to the ocean under scenarios of 21st-century land-based ice melt. We present regional patterns of dynamic sea level change given by a global-coupled atmosphere–ocean climate model forced by spatially and temporally varying projected ice-melt fluxes from three sources: the Antarctic ice sheet, the Greenland Ice Sheet and small glaciers and ice caps. The largest ice melt flux we consider is equivalent to almost 0.7 m of global mean sea level rise over the 21st century. The temporal evolution of the dynamic sea level changes, in the presence of considerable variations in the ice melt flux, is also analysed.

We find that the dynamic sea level change associated with the ice melt is small, with the largest changes occurring in the North Atlantic amounting to 3 cm above the global mean rise. Furthermore, the dynamic sea level change associated with the ice melt is similar regardless of whether the simulated ice fluxes are applied to a simulation with fixed CO2 or under a business-as-usual greenhouse gas warming scenario of increasing CO2.