The 2011 La Niña: So strong, the oceans fell

Edited: 2012-10-16
TitleThe 2011 La Niña: So strong, the oceans fell
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsBoening, C., J. Willis, F. Landerer, R. S. Nerem, and J. Fasullo
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Date Published10/2012
Keywordsclimate, enso, grace, sea_level, terrestrial_water
AbstractGlobal mean sea level (GMSL) dropped by 5 mm between the beginning of 2010 and mid 2011. This drop occurred despite the background rate of rise, 3 mm per year, which dominates most of the 18-year record observed by satellite altimeters. Using a combination of satellite and in situ data, we show that the decline in ocean mass, which explains the sea level drop, coincides with an equivalent increase in terrestrial water storage, primarily over Australia, northern South America, and Southeast Asia. This temporary shift of water from the ocean to land is closely related to the transition from El Niño conditions in 2009/10 to a strong 2010/11 La Niña, which affected precipitation patterns world-wide.
Short TitleGeophys. Res. Lett.