Articles | Volume 4, issue 4
Research article
21 Dec 2010
Research article |  | 21 Dec 2010

The sea level fingerprint of recent ice mass fluxes

J. Bamber and R. Riva

Abstract. The sea level contribution from glacial sources has been accelerating during the first decade of the 21st Century (Meier et al., 2007; Velicogna, 2009). This contribution is not distributed uniformly across the world's oceans due to both oceanographic and gravitational effects. We compute the sea level signature for ice mass fluxes due to changes in the gravity field, Earth's rotation and related effects for the nine year period 2000–2008. Mass loss from Greenland results in a relative sea level (RSL) reduction for much of North Western Europe and Eastern Canada. RSL rise from this source is concentrated around South America. Losses in West Antarctica marginally compensate for this and produce maxima along the coastlines of North America, Australia and Oceania. The combined far-field pattern of wastage from all ice melt sources, is dominated by losses from the ice sheets and results in maxima at latitudes between 20° N and 40° S across the Pacific and Indian Oceans, affecting particularly vulnerable land masses in Oceania. The spatial pattern of RSL variations from ice mass losses used in this study is time-invariant and cumulative. Thus, sea level rise, based on the gravitational effects from the ice losses considered here, will be amplified for this sensitive region.