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On the Conversion of Antarctic Ice-Mass Change to Sea Level Equivalent

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This technical note aims to provide a quick reference and some computational examples for the conversion between Antarctic ice-mass changes and global sea level equivalent (SLE) changes using a few assumptions that computationally simplify this complex problem and that acknowledge gaps in our knowledge of the Antarctic environment. A number of factors involved in the conversion process are discussed, and the sensitivity of the conversion result to certain aspects is analyzed. It was found that the global ocean area calculated from a recently improved global shoreline dataset has little impact on the uncertainty of the SLE estimation. SLE estimation using satellite gravity observations, such as those by GRACE, are sensitive to glacial isostatic adjustment (GIA) models. One more important result from the computation is that the effective density of the volume that is gained or lost during mass change may greatly affect the outcome of the conversion if it differs greatly from the actual density of the firn/ice layers. Finally, a table of computational examples is provided for reference under some assumptions for simplifying the computation.
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Keywords: Antarctic; conversion computation; mass balance; sea level equivalent (SLE)

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Tongji University, Center for Spatial Information Science and Sustainable Development Applications, College of Surveying and Geo-Informatics, Shanghai, China

Publication date: January 2, 2015

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