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Keywords:

  • sea level change;
  • self attraction and loading;
  • steric expansion;
  • climate projections

[1] We investigate the effect of self-attraction and loading (SAL) induced by the projected accumulation of sea water on shallow continental shelf areas. Using output from a climate model, we compute 21st century changes in regional steric sea surface height and find that steric changes are largest over the deep ocean and relatively small on the shallow continental shelves. The resulting redistribution of sea water towards the shelf areas leads to mass accumulation on the shelves and therefore to increased gravitational attraction as well as increased loading on the sea floor. We find that, depending on the scenario and region, SAL effects may result in an additional sea level rise of 1–3 cm on the world's continental shelf areas by the end of the 21st century. These estimates are at most 15% of the combined changes in sea surface height induced by redistribution of water masses and steric expansion.