11 Mar 2022
11 Mar 2022
Status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal ESD.

Process-based Estimate of Global-mean Sea-level Changes in the Common Era

Gangadharan Nidheesh1, Hugues Goosse1, David Parkes2, Heiko Goelzer3, Fabien Maussion4, and Ben Marzeion5 Gangadharan Nidheesh et al.
  • 1Earth and Life Institute, Université catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium
  • 2Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Lancaster University, Lancaster, United Kingdom
  • 3NORCE Norwegian Research Centre, Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, Bergen, Norway
  • 4Department of Atmospheric and Cryospheric Sciences, University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria
  • 5Institute of Geography and MARUM – Center for Marine Environmental Sciences, University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany

Abstract. Though the global-mean sea level (GMSL) rose over the twentieth century with a positive contribution from thermosteric and barystatic (ice sheets and glaciers) sources, driving processes of GMSL changes during the pre-industrial common era (PCE; 1–1850 CE) are largely unknown. Here, the contributions of glacier and ice sheet mass variations and ocean thermal expansion to GMSL in the common era (1–2000 CE) are estimated based on simulations with different physical models. Although the twentieth-century global-mean thermosteric sea level (GMTSL) is mainly associated with temperature variations in the upper 700 meters (86 % in reconstruction and 74±8 % in model), GMTSL in the PCE is equally controlled by temperature changes below 700 meters. GMTSL does not vary more than ±2 cm during the PCE. GMSL contributions from the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets tend to cancel each other during the PCE owing to their differing response to atmospheric conditions. The uncertainties of sea-level contribution from land-ice mass variations are large, especially over the first millennium. Despite underestimating the twentieth-century model GMSL, there is a general agreement between the model and reconstructed GMSL in the CE. Although the uncertainties remain large over the first millennium, model simulations point to glaciers as the dominant source of GMSL changes during the PCE.

Gangadharan Nidheesh et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on esd-2022-2', Anonymous Referee #1, 18 Mar 2022
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Nidheesh Gangadharan, 21 May 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on esd-2022-2', Anonymous Referee #2, 12 Apr 2022
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Nidheesh Gangadharan, 21 May 2022
  • RC3: 'Comment on esd-2022-2', Anonymous Referee #3, 15 Apr 2022
    • AC3: 'Reply on RC3', Nidheesh Gangadharan, 21 May 2022

Gangadharan Nidheesh et al.

Gangadharan Nidheesh et al.


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Short summary
We describe the respective contributions of ocean thermal expansion and land-ice melting (ice sheets and glaciers) to GMSL changes in the common era. The paper shows that mass contributions are the major sources of GMSL changes in the pre-industrial common era and glaciers are the largest partaker. The paper also describes the current state of climate modelling, uncertainties and knowledge gaps along with the potential implications of those past variabilities in the contemporary sea-level rise.