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Discussion papers
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 08 Jan 2019

Submitted as: research article | 08 Jan 2019

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This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal Solid Earth (SE).

The imprints of contemporary mass redistribution on regional sea level and vertical land motion observations

Thomas Frederikse, Felix W. Landerer, and Lambert Caron Thomas Frederikse et al.
  • Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California, USA

Abstract. We derive trends and monthly anomalies in global and regional sea-level and solid-earth deformation that result from mass redistribution observed by GRACE and an ensemble of GIA models. With this ensemble, we do not only compute mean changes, but we also derive uncertainty estimates of all quantities.

We find that over the GRACE era, the trend in land mass change has led to a sea-level trend of 1.28–1.82 mm/yr, which is driven by ice mass loss, while terrestrial water storage has increased over the GRACE period, causing a sea-level drop of 0.11–0.47 mm/yr. This redistribution of mass causes sea-level and deformation patterns that do not only vary in space, but also in time.

The temporal variations affect GNSS-derived vertical land motion (VLM) observations, which are now commonly used to correct tide-gauge observations. We find that for many GNSS stations, including GNSS stations in coastal locations, solid-earth deformation resulting from present-day mass redistribution causes trends in the order of 1 mm/yr or higher. Since GNSS records often only span a few years, these trends are generally not representative for the tide-gauge records, which often span multiple decades, and extrapolating them backwards in time could cause substantial biases.

To avoid this possible bias, we computed trends and associated uncertainties for 8228 GNSS stations after removing deformation due to GIA and present-day mass redistribution. With this separation, we are able to explain a large fraction of the discrepancy between observed sea-level trends at multiple long tide-gauge records and the reconstructed global-mean sea-level trend from recent reconstructions.

Thomas Frederikse et al.
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Thomas Frederikse et al.
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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
Due to ice sheets and glaciers losing mass, and because continents get wetter and drier, a lot of water is redistributed over the earth's surface. The earth is not completely rigid, but deforms under these changes in the load on top. This deformation affects sea-level observations. With the GRACE satellite mission, we can measure this redistribution of water, and compute the resulting deformation. We use this computed deformation to improve the accuracy of sea-level observations.
Due to ice sheets and glaciers losing mass, and because continents get wetter and drier, a lot...