Allison, I and Colgan, W and King, M and Paul, F, Ice Sheets, Glaciers, and Sea Level, Snow and Ice-Related Hazards, Risks, and Disasters, Elsevier, W Haeberli, C Whiteman (ed), Netherlands, pp. 713-747. ISBN 978-0-12-394849-6 (2015) [Research Book Chapter]
Within the past 125,000 years, variations in Earth’s climate have resulted in global sea
levels fluctuating from 130 to 140 m lower than present day to 6 to 9 m higher.
Presently, global mean sea level is rising at its fastest rate in the past 6,000 years
(~3 mm/year). In this chapter, we discuss both the causes and implications of sea-level
rise from the perspective of a cryospheric hazard. We also survey the best estimates of
sea-level rise and cryospheric mass change from a variety of monitoring techniques.
The transfer of terrestrial ice into the sea has contributed about 50 percent of the sea-level
rise since 1993, and probably exceeded the combined sea-level changes due to
thermal expansion, changes in terrestrial water storage, and changes in ocean basin size
since 2003. This cryospheric contribution to sea-level rise is approximately equally
split between the combined ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica, and the global
population of about 200,000 glaciers. The societal effects of sea-level rise will be
highly varied throughout the world, with some locations experiencing relative sea-level
drop, whereas others experience a relative sea-level rise several times the global mean.
Perhaps counter-intuitively, the sea-level rise due to terrestrial ice loss will be most
substantial in areas furthest from the source of melting ice. Although this cryospheric
hazard will unfold over a much longer time scale than many of the other hazards
discussed in this volume, the ramifications of sea-level rise will likely be more widespread
and profound. Some implications discussed here include coastal inundation,
increased coastal flood frequency and groundwater salinization.