Seasonal variations in sea level induced by continental water mass: First results from GRACE

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Abstract
Variations in the Earth\textquoterights water cycle are commonly quantified by their effect on global mean sea-level. However, the interaction between passive adjustment of the ocean to changes in gravitational attraction due to mass redistribution, the related deformation of the solid Earth and disturbances in the Earth\textquoterights rotation vector will yield a distribution that is more complicated than a uniform rise or fall of the ocean\textquoterights surface. In this study, we present the first estimates of seasonal changes in passive sea-level (which we define as the height difference between the sea surface at rest and ocean floor, excluding steric and dynamical effects) based on direct observations of surface mass redistribution, made by the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) between 2003 and 2010. We show that this \textquotedblleftselfgravitation-effect\textquotedblright causes seasonal variations of the sea-level of up to 1 cm \textendash comparable to the amplitude of the long-period tides \textendash and that inclusion in numerical ocean models results in a better agreement between observed and modelled ocean bottom pressure variations, particularly in coastal zones.
Year of Publication
2011
Journal
Geophysical Research Letters
Volume
38
Number of Pages
03303
Date Published
02/2011
URL
http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2011GeoRL..3803303W
DOI
10.1029/2010GL046128