Marginal No More: Constraining Sea-level Change in Scandinavia’s Marginal Seas with Post-Glacial Rebound Models


Accurate constraint of the individual drivers of present-day sea-level trends and secular gravity changes is critical for producing reliable projections and mitigating hazards of future sea-level rise in coastal communities in the coming decades. Climate-related effects (ocean heating, mass loss of ice sheets and glaciers) contribute significantly to observed sea-level and gravity changes at both local and global scales. There is also however a large contribution to these changes from Earth’s ongoing millennial time-scale response to the last glaciation, a process known as post-glacial rebound, or glacial isostatic adjustment (GIA). Unfortunately, GIA estimates are often characterized both by large magnitudes and uncertainties, a problem which impedes constraint of ice sheet mass balance estimates and interferes with interpretation of observed present-day sea-level changes.
Using a three-pronged approach, the proposed research will improve both GIA model predictions and GIA modelling techniques in the northern Europe study area, for application within regional sea-level studies. The research employs both inverse/semi-empirical and forward GIA models, using GPS, GRACE, Holocene sea-level and tide-gauge data as constraint. Empirical models exploit the accuracy of input data and generate realistic present-day GIA uncertainties. Forward models in turn offer valuable insight into past glacial history and Earth structure. This research will improve GIA predictions through the comprehensive use of: 1) four datasets in the North and Baltic sea region, 2) empirical GIA uncertainty estimation, and 3) non-standard (Burgers) description of Earth rheology. Improved GIA predictions provide an important basis with which to better constrain contemporary mass balance and sea-level studies.


Project number


Main applicant

Prof. dr. L.L.A. Vermeersen

Affiliated with

NIOZ - Koninklijk Nederlands Instituut voor Onderzoek der Zee


01/02/2018 to 31/01/2021