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Twentieth-century global-mean sea level rise: is the whole greater than the sum of the parts?


Gregory, JM and White, NJ and Church, JA and Bierkens, MFP and Box, JE and van den Broeke, MR and Cogley, JG and Fettweis, X and Hanna, E and Huybrechts, P and Konikow, LF and Leclercq, PW and Marzeion, B and Oerlemans, J and Tamisiea, ME and Wada, Y and Wake, LM and van de Wal, RSW, Twentieth-century global-mean sea level rise: is the whole greater than the sum of the parts?, Journal of Climate, 26, (13) pp. 4476-4499. ISSN 0894-8755 (2013) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2013 American Meteorological Society

DOI: doi:10.1175/JCLI-D-12-00319.1


Confidence in projections of global-mean sea level rise (GMSLR) depends on an ability to account forGMSLR during the twentieth century. There are contributions from ocean thermal expansion, mass loss from glaciers and ice sheets, groundwater extraction, and reservoir impoundment. Progress has been made toward solving the ‘‘enigma’’ of twentieth-century GMSLR, which is that the observedGMSLRhas previously been found to exceed the sum of estimated contributions, especially for the earlier decades. The authors propose the following: thermal expansion simulated by climatemodels may previously have been underestimated because of their not including volcanic forcing in their control state; the rate of glacier mass loss was larger than previously estimated and was not smaller in the first half than in the second half of the century; the Greenland ice sheet could have made a positive contribution throughout the century; and groundwater depletion and reservoir impoundment, which are of opposite sign, may have been approximately equal inmagnitude. It is possible to reconstruct the time series of GMSLR from the quantified contributions, apart from a constant residual term, which is small enough to be explained as a long-term contribution from the Antarctic ice sheet. The reconstructions account for the observation that the rate of GMSLR was not much larger during the last 50 years than during the twentieth century as a whole, despite the increasing anthropogenic forcing. Semiempiricalmethods for projectingGMSLR depend on the existence of a relationship between global climate change and the rate of GMSLR, but the implication of the authors’ closure of the budget is that such a relationship is weak or absent during the twentieth century.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:sea level, in situ oceanic observations, ship observations surface observations, climate models
Research Division:Earth Sciences
Research Group:Climate change science
Research Field:Climate change processes
Objective Division:Environmental Policy, Climate Change and Natural Hazards
Objective Group:Understanding climate change
Objective Field:Climate change models
UTAS Author:Church, JA (Dr John Church)
ID Code:122066
Year Published:2013
Web of Science® Times Cited:147
Deposited By:CRC-Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems
Deposited On:2017-10-30
Last Modified:2017-11-07

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