University of Oulu

Box, J.E., Hubbard, A., Bahr, D.B. et al. Greenland ice sheet climate disequilibrium and committed sea-level rise. Nat. Clim. Chang. 12, 808–813 (2022).

Greenland ice sheet climate disequilibrium and committed sea-level rise

Saved in:
Author: Box, Jason E.1; Hubbard, Alun2,3; Bahr, David B.4;
Organizations: 1Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, Copenhagen, Denmark
2Institut for Geosciences, The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, Norway
3Geography and Kvantum Institute, Oulun yliopisto, Oulu, Finland
4Institute for Arctic and Alpine Research, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, USA
5Geography, SPHERES research units, University of Liège, Liège, Belgium
6Institute of Geography, University of Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland
7Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research, Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands
8Department of Geoscience & Remote Sensing, Delft University of Technology, Delft, the Netherlands
9Department of Geosciences and Natural Resources Management, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 6.3 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2022
Publish Date: 2023-06-27


Ice loss from the Greenland ice sheet is one of the largest sources of contemporary sea-level rise (SLR). While process-based models place timescales on Greenland’s deglaciation, their confidence is obscured by model shortcomings including imprecise atmospheric and oceanic couplings. Here, we present a complementary approach resolving ice sheet disequilibrium with climate constrained by satellite-derived bare-ice extent, tidewater sector ice flow discharge and surface mass balance data. We find that Greenland ice imbalance with the recent (2000–2019) climate commits at least 274 ± 68 mm SLR from 59 ± 15 × 10³ km² ice retreat, equivalent to 3.3 ± 0.9% volume loss, regardless of twenty-first-century climate pathways. This is a result of increasing mass turnover from precipitation, ice flow discharge and meltwater run-off. The high-melt year of 2012 applied in perpetuity yields an ice loss commitment of 782 ± 135 mm SLR, serving as an ominous prognosis for Greenland’s trajectory through a twenty-first century of warming.

see all

Series: Nature climate change
ISSN: 1758-678X
ISSN-E: 1758-6798
ISSN-L: 1758-678X
Volume: 12
Pages: 808 - 813
DOI: 10.1038/s41558-022-01441-2
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1171 Geosciences
Funding: This work was completed with support from the Danish Ministry of Climate, Energy and Utilities via PROMICE. A.H. holds a research professorship from the Research Council of Norway (project no. 223259) and an Academy of Finland ArcI visiting fellowship to the University of Oulu. B.W. received an NWO VIDI grant no. 016.VIDI.171.063. B.N. received an NWO VENI grant no. VI.Veni.192.019. X.F. received support from the following: Netherlands Earth System Science Centre MvdB; Consortium des Équipements de Calcul Intensif; Fonds de la Recherche Scientifique de Belgique (F.R.S.FNRS) 2.5020.11; and Tier-1 supercomputer (Zenobe), Fédération Wallonie Bruxelles infrastructure funded by the Walloon Region under grant no. 1117545.
Copyright information: © The Author(s) 2022. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit