A Weak, Positive Feedback Between Sea Level and the Earth's Planetary Energy Budget
Abstract:Increases in global mean temperature lead to increasing sea level mostly by loss of land ice mass and thermal expansion of the ocean. On millennial timescales, a warming of 5 K leads to flooding of about 1.6 % of Earth's current land surface, when taking into account the spatial distribution of relative sea-level rise caused by mass redistribution and isostatic rebound (Marzeion & Levermann, 2014). While there is great seasonal and spatial variability, the planetary albedo over the ocean is generally slightly lower than over land. We use millennial-scale, spatially explicit projections of relative sea-level rise, and the observed spatio-temporal distribution of planetary albedo and incident shortwave radiation, to determine the strength of the feedback between sea-level rise and the planetary energy budget.
We find that the feedback is positive, but very weak. While the spatial pattern of sea-level rise is varying strongly with temperature, we find that the strength of the feedback is relatively independent of the temperature change, and around 0.8±0.1 %; i.e., an external forcing of 1 W/m2 will result in 1.008 W/m2 change of the energy balance.