SEALEV: Sea Level Change and Ice Sheet Dynamics

The project is part of the Centre of Climate Dynamics established at the University of Bergen in 2010


Overall objective: To understand sea level change incorporating the effect of ocean circulation, steric height, isostatic adjustment, freshwater mass flux from ice sheets, glaciers and rivers in order to improve projections of sea level for the 21st century with focus on the Norwegian coastal regions and for selected cooperating countries in the south, such as for example Bangladesh, India, South Africa and China.


The specific objectives:

(1) Estimate variability and changes in ice-sheet elevation in order to quantify the effects of atmospheric variability (accumulation, temperature) on ice-sheet elevation and mass balance estimates;

(2) Estimate variability and changes in mass flux from and extent of marine-terminating outlet glaciers in order to understand the effects of the ocean, coastal and fjord waters on marine-terminating outlet glacier mass losses;

(3)  Use models to understand the dynamical interaction between atmosphere, ice sheet and ocean in order to reduce the uncertainties of future projections of mass exchange;

(4) Perform control and 20th century integrations with fresh water as mass flux (FWAMF) version of NorESM with focus on spatial variability caused by steric changes and (dynamic) continental shelf effects  and static equilibrium effects caused by gravitational, elastic or rotational effects;

(5) Predict sea level rise in 21st century with uncertainties, with focus on Atlantic/Arctic high latitudes by using FWAMF version of NorESM;

(6) To document former sea-level changes and the spatial shoreline configuration in Northern Europe since the last glaciation and up to the present, identify the causal connections and provide quantitative characterizations of the underlying processes.

(7) To synthesis the effect of ocean processes on sea level rise by assessing the interactions between sea level, mean dynamic topography and steric height

Project Summary

The project consists of the following 7 interlinked workpackages: WP 1. Observed present sea level change, WP 2. Observed present Greenland ice sheet and outlet glaciers, WP3. Atmospheric and ocean/fjord influence on ice sheet/outlet glaciers (include modelling), WP4. Greenland ice sheet modelling and mass balance, WP5. Reconstruction of former sea-level and ice sheets to make better future predictions, WP6. Sea level modelling and analysis with focus on high latitudes and WP7. Synthesis and dissemination.

This project consists of two parts: studies of the Greenland Ice Sheet mass balance and sea level changes in North Atlantic & Arctic.

Greenland Ice-Sheet (GrIS) freshwater input into the North Atlantic Ocean has impact on global sea level and ocean circulation. The project will integrate satellite/field observations and modeling for: (i) estimation of spatial & temporal variability of ice-sheet elevation; (ii) study of the impact of atmospheric-circulation and storm activities on ice-sheet accumulation and elevation; (iii) study of the variability of major marine-terminating outlet glaciers in SE Greenland; (iv) field studies and modeling of glacier-fjord-ocean interactions in the Sermilik fjord; and (v) mass balance estimation using an ice sheet model.

The project will also: (i) use modified version of NorESM to study sea level changes in 20th and 21st century with special focus on spatial variability and static equilibrium effects at high northern latitudes; (ii) provide critical new observations of sea-level changes along the Norwegian coast since the last glaciations; (iii) Incorporate major effects (mass changes from land ice, steric changes and ocean circulation) to estimate 21st century sea level rise with uncertainties.

The project will be a base for future sea level studies, including the Antarctic Ice Shelf, of importance for developing countries.

The project includes particpants from NERSC, UIB, Uni-RE and IMR.

Project Details
Funding Agency: 
Centre for Climate Dynamics - Research Council of Norway
NERSC Principal Investigator: 
Jan Even Øie Nilsen
Coordinating Institute: 
Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center
Project Status: