Focusgroup Cryosphere and SeaLevel (FCS)

The interaction between cryosphere and ocean is one of the main drivers for sea level rise on a global to local scale. A number of SPP SeaLevel scientists working in the field of the Arctic ocean and Greenland ice sheets and glaciers have joined their efforts within the Focusgroup Cryosphere and SeaLevel (FCS), which consists of partners from the Universities of the Bonn, Bremen, Dresden, Stuttgart and Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU), and the Helmholtz Centres AWI (Bremerhaven) and GEOMAR (Kiel). Although each project was submitted independently, the FCS aims to foster intensified exchange and discussion of scientific results and lead to a coherent scientific plan and joint publications, with a special emphasis on the interaction between observational and model results. The PhD students and early career scientists working in the projects of the FCS will also have the opportunity to visit other FCS groups to broaden their skills and scientific knowledge, and they will - together with the FCS members - meet during the SPP meetings and/or on annual workshops.

The FCS research contributes to two of the three main Work Packages of the SPP1889, namely the WP A “Origin of regional sea level changes at annual to multi-decadal scale” and WP B “Regionalization of Decadal Sea Level projections”.

The SPP SeaLevel scientists and projects that are involved in the FCS are:

  • J. Kusche (IGG Uni-Bonn) and M. Horwath (TU Dresden) from the OMCG project, which aims at disentangling present-day ocean mass change, steric sea level change, glacial isostatic adjustment, and land mass change from multiple geodetic data sets in a consistent framework, at a global scale. OMCG will thus aid other cryosphere-related projects by providing improved observational data sets and constraints, and benefit from modelling efforts within the FCS.
  • T. Kanzow (AWI Bremerhaven) and U. Schauer (AWI Bremerhaven) from the OGreen79 project, which aims to understand the mechanisms by which the ocean circulation in the Fram Strait and the Northeast Greenland Shelf supplies heat toward the inner shelf and its interaction with melting at the base of the floating ice tongue at the 79N glacier. The measurements planned in the near and far-field of the glacier will be combined with a high resolution FESOM model.
  • B. Marzeion (Uni-Bremen) from the PARSL-Glac project, which aims to quantify the predictability of regional sea level change caused by glacier mass change, based on ongoing adjustment of glaciers to past climate change. Future glacier-related sea level rise will be attributed to this adjustment, to anthropogenic drivers, and to natural variability. Fingerprinting methods will be applied to translate glacier mass change to sea level change patterns.

  • M. Rhein (Uni-Bremen) and O. Huhn (Uni-Bremen) from the Labsea Melt project, which will use observed distributions of noble gases to estimate how much basal glacial melt is produced from the Greenland Ice sheet, and how much is transferred into the Labrador Sea (especially the formation region of Labrador Sea Water). The Labsea Melt project will identify whether the fractions of glacial melt in the interior of the ocean have increased since the 1980s. The measurements will be complemented by the analysis of a high resolution ice-ocean model to study the consequences of increasing subsurface melt on the regional sea level in the subpolar North Atlantic, and which mechanisms are involved e.g. mass increase, changes in the 3-D thermohaline structure and thus dynamic topography, changes in the large-scale circulation and associated changes in freshwater and heat distribution.

  • M. Tourian (Uni-Stuttgart), N. Sneeuw (Uni-Stuttgart), M. Losch (AWI Bremerhaven) and B. Rabe (AWI Bremerhaven) from the RASLyBoCa project which aims to construct long (several decades) and dense time series of river runoff (including error bars) for all major catchments draining into the Arctic Ocean. Geodetic spaceborne methods will be supported by an analysis of sensitivity of a sea ice-ocean model to changes in freshwater forcing (including runoff). Methods of forward model perturbations will inform about the fate of the freshwater signal of interannually varying runoff in the Arctic Ocean.
  • M. Braun (FAU) from the SATELLITE project, which aims at deriving a stochastic global sampling for ice volume and mass loss of glaciers and ice caps on repeat satellite observations. For this purpose, a respective sampling strategy will be developed. Geodetic glacier mass balances provided for on a statistical representative sample of glaciers and ice caps will enable the quantitative comparison of changes and change rates in different regions of the world using the same methodology.


WP A analyzes the mechanisms of sea level variability, focusing primarily on processes leading to spatially highly inhomogeneous patterns of regional seal level change on time scales of up to 50 years.

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WP B is concerned with the establishment of a scientific basis for obtaining reliable local projections of sea level trends. It contributes towards improved quantitative and detailed (high-resolution and high-end) estimates of future coastal sea level changes in the two study regions.

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WP C performs an integrated analysis of sea level change and human-environment interactions in the selected study regions, aiming to identify sea level stressors, coastal impacts, adaption pathways and policies for the studied regions.

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