The potential contribution of glaciers and ice caps to sea level rise is usually calculated by comparing the estimated total ice volume with the surface area of the ocean. Part of this total ice volume, however, does not contribute to sea-level rise, because it is below the surface of the ocean or below the levels of future lakes on land. The present communication points to this so far overlooked phenomenon and provides a first order-of-magnitude estimate. It is shown that the effect is small (most likely 1 to 5 cm sea-level equivalent) but systematic, could primarily affect earlier stages of global glacier vanishing and should therefore be adequately considered. Now-available techniques of slope-related high-resolution glacier-bed modelling have the potential to provide more detailed assessments in the future.