Since 1993, measurements from the TOPEX and Jason series of satellite radar altimeters have allowed estimates of global mean sea level. These measurements are continuously monitored against a network of tide gauges. When seasonal variations are subtracted, they allow estimation of the global mean sea level rate. As new data, models and corrections become available, we continuously revise these estimates (about every two months) to improve their quality.

2016_rel4: Global Mean Sea Level Time Series (seasonal signals removed)

Edited: 2016-12-11


Raw data (ASCII) | PDF | EPS

Similar plots

Global Mean Sea Level Time Series (seasonal signals retained)

Release Notes

2016 Release 4 (2016-09-22):

  • Added Jason-2/OSTM GDR cycles 289-296.

Instrument Drift Monitoring

To cite these plots or data, please use:  Nerem, R. S., D. Chambers, C. Choe, and G. T. Mitchum. "Estimating Mean Sea Level Change from the TOPEX and Jason Altimeter Missions." Marine Geodesy 33, no. 1 supp 1 (2010): 435.

2016_rel4: GMSL and Multivariate ENSO Index

Edited: 2016-09-22


The Multivariate ENSO Index (MEI) is the unrotated, first principal component of six observables measured over the tropical Pacific (see NOAA ESRL MEI, Wolter & Timlin, 1993,1998).  To compare the global mean sea level to the MEI time series, we removed the mean, linear trend, and seasonal signals from the 60-day smoothed global mean sea level estimates and normalized each time series by its standard deviation. The normalized values plotted above show a strong correlation between the global mean sea level and the MEI, with the global mean sea level often lagging changes in the MEI.

New group publication: "Is the detection of accelerated sea level rise imminent?" by Fasullo et al.

Edited: 2016-08-10

We have a new publication out in Nature Scientific Reports led by John Fasullo of NCAR and CU sea level team members.

Is the detection of accelerated sea level rise imminent? (Direct PDF)


Global mean sea level rise estimated from satellite altimetry provides a strong constraint on climate variability and change and is expected to accelerate as the rates of both ocean warming and cryospheric mass loss increase over time. In stark contrast to this expectation however, current altimeter products show the rate of sea level rise to have decreased from the first to second decades of the altimeter era. Here, a combined analysis of altimeter data and specially designed climate model simulations shows the 1991 eruption of Mt Pinatubo to likely have masked the acceleration that would have otherwise occurred. This masking arose largely from a recovery in ocean heat content through the mid to late 1990 s subsequent to major heat content reductions in the years following the eruption. A consequence of this finding is that barring another major volcanic eruption, a detectable acceleration is likely to emerge from the noise of internal climate variability in the coming decade.

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