Regional patterns of observed sea level change: insights from a 1/4\textdegree global ocean/sea-ice hindcast

A global eddy-admitting ocean/sea-ice simulation driven over 1958-2004 by daily atmospheric forcing is used to evaluate spatial patterns of sea level change between 1993 and 2001. In the present study, no data assimilation is performed. The model is based on the Nucleus for European Models of the Ocean code at the 1/4\textdegree resolution, and the simulation was performed without data assimilation by the DRAKKAR project. We show that this simulation correctly reproduces the observed regional sea level trend patterns computed using satellite altimetry data over 1993-2001. Generally, we find that regional sea level change is best simulated in the tropical band and northern oceans, whereas the Southern Ocean is poorly simulated. We examine the respective contributions of steric and bottom pressure changes to the total regional sea level changes. For the steric component, we analyze separately the contributions of temperature and salinity changes as well as upper and lower ocean contributions. Generally, the model results show that most regional sea level changes arise from temperature changes in the upper 750 m of the ocean. However, contributions of salinity changes and deep steric changes can be locally important. We also propose a map of ocean bottom pressure changes. Finally, we assess the robustness of such a model by comparing this simulation with a second simulation performed by MERCATOR-Ocean based on the same core model, but differing by its short length of integration (1992-2001) and its surface forcing data set. The long simulation presents better performance over 1993-2001 than the short simulation, especially in the Southern Ocean where a long adjustment time seems to be needed.
Year of Publication
Ocean Dynamics
Number of Pages
Date Published