A fully coupled 3-D ice-sheet-sea-level model: Algorithm and applications

B. De Boer*, P. Stocchi, R. S.W. Van De Wal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Relative sea-level variations during the late Pleistocene can only be reconstructed with the knowledge of ice-sheet history. On the other hand, the knowledge of regional and global relative sea-level variations is necessary to learn about the changes in ice volume. Overcoming this problem of circularity demands a fully coupled system where ice sheets and sea level vary consistently in space and time and dynamically affect each other. Here we present results for the past 410 000 years (410 kyr) from the coupling of a set of 3-D ice-sheet-shelf models to a global sea-level model, which is based on the solution of the gravitationally self-consistent sea-level equation. The sea-level model incorporates the glacial isostatic adjustment feedbacks for a Maxwell viscoelastic and rotating Earth model with coastal migration. Ice volume is computed with four 3-D ice-sheet-shelf models for North America, Eurasia, Greenland and Antarctica. Using an inverse approach, ice volume and temperature are derived from a benthic δ18O stacked record. The derived surface-air temperature anomaly is added to the present-day climatology to simulate glacial-interglacial changes in temperature and hence ice volume. The ice-sheet thickness variations are then forwarded to the sea-level model to compute the bedrock deformation, the change in sea-surface height and thus the relative sea-level change. The latter is then forwarded to the ice-sheet models. To quantify the impact of relative sea-level variations on ice-volume evolution, we have performed coupled and uncoupled simulations. The largest differences of ice-sheet thickness change occur at the edges of the ice sheets, where relative sea-level change significantly departs from the ocean-averaged sea-level variations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2141-2156
Number of pages16
JournalGeoscientific Model Development
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 23 Sep 2014

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