Global sea-level contribution from Arctic land ice: 1971 to 2017

Environmental Research Letters
By: , and 



The Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP) (AMAP, 2017) identifies the Arctic as the largest regional source of land ice to global sea-level rise in the 2003 to 2014 period. Yet, this contextualization ignores the longer perspective from in-situ records of glacier mass balance. Here, using 18 (> 55 °N latitude) glacier and ice cap mass balance series in the 1971 to 2017 period, we develop a semi-empirical estimate of annual sealevel contribution from seven Arctic regions by scaling the in-situ records to GRACE averages. We contend that our estimate represents the most accurate mass balance assessment so far available before the 1992 start of satellite altimetry. We estimate the 1971 to 2017 eustatic sea-level contribution from land ice north of ~55° N to be 23.0±12.3 mm sea-level equivalent (SLE). In all regions, the cumulative sealevel rise curves exhibit an acceleration, especially after 1988. Greenland is the source of 46% of the Arctic sea-level rise contribution (10.6±7.3 mm), followed by Alaska (5.7±2.2 mm), Arctic Canada (3.2±0.7 mm) and the Russian High Arctic (1.5±0.4 mm). Our annual results exhibit co-variability over a 43 year overlap (1971 to 2013) with the alternative dataset of Marzeion et al (2015) (M15). However, we find a 1.36x lower sea-level contribution, in agreement with satellite gravimetry. The IPCC Fifth Assessment report identified constraining the pre-satellite era sealevel budget as a topic of low scientific understanding that we address and specify sealevel contributions coinciding with IPCC Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (SROCC) “present day” (2005-2015) and “recent past” (1986-2005) reference periods. We assess an Arctic land ice loss of 8.3 mm SLE during the recent past and 12.4 mm SLE during the present day.
Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Global sea-level contribution from Arctic land ice: 1971 to 2017
Series title Environmental Research Letters
DOI 10.1088/1748-9326/aaf2ed
Volume 13
Issue 12
Year Published 2019
Language English
Publisher IOP publishing
Contributing office(s) Alaska Science Center Water
Description 125012, 11 p.
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