PROTECT - Projecting sea-level rise: from ice sheets to local implications

PROTECT - Projecting sea-level rise: from ice sheets to local implications

Sea level rise (SLR) due to climate change is a serious global threat that can result in land ice loss and ocean thermal expansion. It also results in catastrophic consequences for the future of coastal regions. As land ice contribution is increasing, policymakers are concerned about the threats ice sheet change represents.

The EU-funded PROTECT project will drive SLR projections beyond the state of the art and provide a long-standing scientific and social contribution.

It will significantly improve our understanding and model representation of ice sheet processes and offer a new approach in modelling the interactions between atmosphere, ocean and ice sheets.

PROTECT will also improve the strength of the resulting SLR projections, envision the future social impact of SLR and train the next generation of sea level scientists.

The comprehensive spectrum of expertise allows PROTECT to cover, for the first time, all spatial and temporal scales that are relevant for future SLR.

PROTECT will achieve the following specific objectives:

  1. Assess the contemporary mass balance of ice sheets and glaciers, quantify the relative importance of anthropogenic forcing and internal climate variability to ice sheet and glacier changes, and use remote-sensing observations to evaluate and improve the models used for ice sheet and glacier projections. To meet this objective, PROTECT will use and develop data products from the ESA Earth Observation Programme and Copernicus climate data.
  2. Use the improved understanding of short-term variability in glacier and ice-sheet mass balance to make projections until 2050, the time scale of relevance to many of today’s coastal management decisions. This mainly concerns the melting of glaciers and key areas of significant contemporary ice sheet mass loss in West Antarctica (Amundsen Sea embayment and Antarctic Peninsula) and the ablation zone and dynamical response time of major outlet glaciers of the GrIS (e.g. Jakobshavn Isbrae).
  3. Use a range of newly-developed, coupled climate-ice sheet models to project SLR as a result of glacier and ice sheet mass change until 2100, the IPCC timescale that is relevant for long-term infrastructure planning. Improved understanding and modelling of critical cryosphere processes and feedbacks will better characterise the probability of high-end SLR under plausible climate-change trajectories.
  4. Assess the irreversibility of glacier and ice-sheet mass loss and the associated SLR commitment to 2500 and beyond, the timescale relevant to the long-term viability of coastal cities, small islands and low-lying states. This requires an understanding of the conditions needed for glacier and ice-sheet regrowth and their likelihood under strong mitigation of anthropogenic greenhouse-gas emissions.


Heiko Goelzer

Research Professor - Bergen

+47 56 10 75 19

Project facts


PROTECT - Projecting sea-level rise: from ice sheets to local implications




01.09.20 - 31.08.24



Total budget

99.966.610 NOK

Research areas

Research group




Université Grenoble Alpes

Project members

Gaël Durand


Université Grenoble Alpes, NORCE


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