Steric Sea Level Changes from Ocean Reanalyses at Global and Regional Scales


Sea level has risen significantly in the recent decades and is expected to rise further based on recent climate projections. Ocean reanalyses that synthetize information from observing networks, dynamical ocean general circulation models, and atmospheric forcing data offer an attractive way to evaluate sea level trend and variability and partition the causes of such sea level changes at both global and regional scales. Here, we review recent utilization of reanalyses for steric sea level trend investigations. State-of-the-science ocean reanalysis products are then used to further infer steric sea level changes. In particular, we used an ensemble of centennial reanalyses at moderate spatial resolution (between 0.5 × 0.5 and 1 × 1 degree) and an ensemble of eddy-permitting reanalyses to quantify the trends and their uncertainty over the last century and the last two decades, respectively. All the datasets showed good performance in reproducing sea level changes. Centennial reanalyses reveal a 1900–2010 trend of steric sea level equal to 0.47 ± 0.04 mm year−1, in agreement with previous studies, with unprecedented rise since the mid-1990s. During the altimetry era, the latest vintage of reanalyses is shown to outperform the previous ones in terms of skill scores against the independent satellite data. They consistently reproduce global and regional upper ocean steric expansion and the association with climate variability, such as ENSO. However, the mass contribution to the global mean sea level rise is varying with products and its representability needs to be improved, as well as the contribution of deep and abyssal waters to the steric sea level rise. Similarly, high-resolution regional reanalyses for the European seas provide valuable information on sea level trends, their patterns, and their causes.
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