PALSEA workshop: Improving understanding of ice-sheet and solid-Earth processes driving paleo sea-level change

14.09 - 16.09.2020  
Palisades, NY, USA
Contact person:
Jacqueline Austermann, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The PALeo-constraints on SEA-level rise (PALSEA) working group will hold the workshop "Improving understanding of ice-sheet and solid-Earth processes driving paleo sea-level change" from 14-16 September 2020 in Palisades, NY, USA.


Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory


This is an open meeting for approximately 50 people. Group leaders will invite a small number of scientists with specific expertise on the workshop theme, but we will open the participation through an abstract submission process.


This meeting will focus on developing a better understanding of the physical processes that drive ice-sheet collapse and solid earth deformation. These processes are highly uncertain due to a lack of observational constraints, yet they are the dominant drivers for local sea-level change. Overcoming this uncertainty requires drawing from observations and expertise from a variety of fields complementary to PALSEA including mineral physics, geodynamics, and glaciology.

In this meeting, we aim to bring empiricists and modelers from these communities together in order to unify solid Earth deformation and ice-sheet evolution across time and spatial scales. Pairing our improved understanding of physical processes with enhanced paleo datasets will allow us to narrow in on ice-sheet contributions to past sea-level rise.


The first day of the meeting will be dedicated to better understanding solid Earth deformation on ice-age timescales such as glacial isostatic adjustment, tectonics, and mantle dynamic topography.

The second day will be dedicated to presentations addressing cutting-edge constraints on paleo ice sheets including ice-sheet modeling and ice-margin constraints.

During the third day of the meeting, we will address data stewardship in the sea-level modeling community. In particular we will focus on:
- trying to establish best practices for the documentation, distribution, and citation of numerical code;
- what benchmarking across different 1D and 3D codes exist and/or should be done; and
- how model output should be made available to the community (what format, what platform).

Addressing these goals will be an integral part of the data-stewardship activities of this PALSEA phase.

Confirmed speakers

- (ECR) Harriet Lau, University of California, Berkeley, USA – expertise in transient rheology and GIA
- (ECR) Kerry Callaghan, University of Minnesota Twin City, USA – changes in terrestrial water storage
- Lauren Gregoire, University of Leeds, UK – ice-sheet and climate modeling
- (ECR) Rene Gassmöller, UC Davis, USA – geodynamic modeling, software development and model data stewardship.


Abstracts will be selected on the basis of relevance to the overall topic. Abstract selection will also take into account gender balance, ECR status and participants from low GDP countries. More information on how to submit abstracts and the deadline date will be announced as soon as possible.


How and when to register will be announced as soon as possible.

Financial support

PAGES has provided some financial support for the attendance of 10 ECRs or scientists from developing countries. Details on how to apply will be made available as soon as possible.


The second phase of PALSEA from 2013-2018 was instrumental in identifying many of the challenges in firmly constraining past sea-level changes. The current, third phase of PALSEA (2019-2021) seeks to target these challenges to help overcome them.

The first workshop of this phase in 2019 focused on ecological and chronological considerations critical to accurately interpreting proxy records of paleo sea level.

The 2020 workshop will probe the latest understanding of the ice-sheet and solid-Earth processes driving the sea-level changes encoded in these proxy records.

We plan a final workshop in 2021 that integrates these advances to improve estimates of past rates and magnitudes of sea-level change, and explores how they can be used to validate coupled models used for future projections.

Planned products

- 600-word PAGES workshop report for the Past Global Changes Magazine
- A first protocol summarizing our discussion on data stewardship in the sea-level modeling community
- A peer-reviewed publication focusing on last interglacial (LIG) sea level. This paper will use a large set of sea-level models and data to highlight persistent model uncertainties and identify existing and future fieldwork locations that should be targeted to reduce these uncertainties. This will be an output combining knowledge gained from the 2018, 2019, and 2020 PALSEA workshops.

We hope that this work will summarize our current state of knowledge on LIG sea level and be a community guide for future data and modeling efforts.

Data stewardship

Since this meeting focuses on modeling, we don’t plan to build a database. However, data stewardship for the modeling community (as detailed in the meeting overview) will be an important component of the planned meeting. We will discuss options for repositories for both code and model output.

Stakeholder engagement

The focus of this meeting is very 'academic' in that it requires a better understanding of sea-level proxies. We therefore expect stakeholder engagement to occur a little later within the working group cycle (in particular during meeting 3) once some of the uncertainties surrounding late Quaternary sea-level change are reduced as a result of the earlier work.  Stakeholder involvement is a critical component of PALSEA (as demonstrated through our involvement with Climate Central), however, it is important we first reduce some of our uncertainties prior to working with stakeholders on the latest state-of-the-art science.

Further information

Contact meeting organizer Jacqueline Austermann, Columbia University, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Go to the official workshop website: