Regional sea level change in response to ice mass loss in Greenland, the West Antarctic and Alaska

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

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Besides the warming of the ocean, sea level is mainly rising due to land ice mass loss of the major ice sheets in Greenland, the West Antarctic, and the Alaskan Glaciers. However, it is not clear yet how these land ice mass losses influence regional sea level. Here, we use the global Finite Element Sea-ice Ocean Model (FESOM) to simulate sea surface height (SSH) changes caused by these ice mass losses and combine it with the passive ocean response to varying surface loading using the sea level equation. We prescribe rates of fresh water inflow, not only around Greenland, but also around the West Antarctic Ice Sheet and the mountain glaciers in Alaska with approximately present-day amplitudes of 200, 100, and 50 Gt/yr, respectively. Perturbations in sea level and in freshwater distribution with respect to a reference simulation are computed for each source separately and in their combination. The ocean mass change shows an almost globally uniform behavior. In the North Atlantic and Arctic Ocean, mass is redistributed toward coastal regions. Steric sea level change varies locally in the order of several centimeters on advective timescales of decades. Steric effects to local sea level differ significantly in different coastal locations, e.g., at North American coastal regions the steric effects may have the same order of magnitude as the mass driven effect, whereas at the European coast, steric effects remain small during the simulation period.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7316-7328
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Alaska Glaciers
  • Greenland
  • ice mass loss
  • ocean modeling
  • sea level change
  • West Antarctica
  • ITC-CV


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