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MARI/CCPO Seminar Series Spring 2015

Regional sea level variability from ice sheets, glaciers and land hydrology

Isabella Velicogna, Dept of Earth System Science University of California Irvine, Irvine, CA and Jet Propulsion Laboratory- NASA, Pasadena CA

Closing the sea level budget is a most important scientific and societal issue of climate change. Here, we report on the status of ice sheets and glaciers mass balance throughout the world and their contribution to sea level rise using time series of time-variable gravity from the NASA/DLR GRACE satellite mission for the time period 2003-2014. We also evaluate static regional sea level variations (or sea level fingerprints, SLF) from these observations of ice sheet and glacier loss, combined with observations of changes in global land hydrology also from GRACE, and water input from the atmosphere from re-analysis data. We evaluate the relative contribution of each component to regional sea level. We compare the cumulative SLF signal at global scale and at the scale of large ocean basins with satellite altimetry data corrected for the steric component from Argo floats. We find an excellent agreement between the two datasets. Although the regional SLF do not include sea level variations from ocean dynamics that re-distributes water mass around the world’s oceans at the analyzed scales, we find that the SLF represent a large fraction of the trend and annual amplitude of the sea level signal. This work was conducted at the University of California Irvine and at Caltech's Jet Propulsion Laboratory under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.