Modeled steric and mass-driven sea level change caused by Greenland Ice Sheet melting

S. E. Brunnabend*, J. Schröter, R. Timmermann, R. Rietbroek, J. Kusche

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Meltwater from the Greenland Ice Sheet (GIS) has been a major contributor to sea level change in the recent past. Global and regional sea level variations caused by melting of the GIS are investigated with the finite element sea-ice ocean model (FESOM). We consider changes of local density (steric effects), mass inflow into the ocean, redistribution of mass, and gravitational effects. Five melting scenarios are simulated, where mass losses of 100, 200, 500, and 1000. Gt/yr are converted to a continuous volume flux that is homogeneously distributed along the coast of Greenland south of 75°N. In addition, a scenario of regional melt rates is calculated from daily ice melt characteristics. The global mean sea level modeled with FESOM increases by about 0.3. mm/yr if 100. Gt/yr of ice melts, which includes eustatic and steric sea level change. In the global mean the steric contribution is one order of magnitude smaller than the eustatic contribution. Regionally, especially in the North Atlantic, the steric contribution leads to strong deviations from the global mean sea level change. The modeled pattern mainly reflects the structure of temperature and salinity change in the upper ocean. Additionally, small steric variations occur due to local variability in the heat exchange between the atmosphere and the ocean. The mass loss has also affects on the gravitational attraction by the ice sheet, causing spatially varying sea level change mainly near the GIS, but also at greater distances. This effect is accounted for by using Green's functions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)219-225
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of geodynamics
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Gravitational attraction
  • Greenland
  • Ice sheet melting
  • Sea level change
  • ITC-CV


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