Thermosteric sea level rise for the past 50 years; comparison with tide gauges and inference on water mass contribution

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Abstract
In this paper we compare sea level trends observed at a few selected tide gauges of good quality records with thermosteric (i.e., due to ocean temperature change) sea level trends over 1950 1998 using different gridded ocean temperature data sets from Levitus et al. (2000) [Levitus, S., Stephens, C., Antonov, J.I., Boyer, T.P., 2000. Yearly and Year-Season Upper Ocean Temperature Anomaly Fields, 1948 1998. U.S. Gov. Printing Office, Washington, D.C. pp. 23.], Ishii et al. (2003) [Ishii, M., Kimoto, M., Kachi, M., 2003. Historical ocean subsurface temperature analysis with error estimates, Mon. Weather Rev., 131, 51 73.] and Levitus et al. (2005) [Levitus S., Antonov, J.I., Boyer, T.P., 2005. Warming of the world ocean, 1955 2003. Geophys. Res. Lett. 32, L02604. doi:10.1029/2004GL021592.]. When using the Levitus data, we observe very high thermosteric rates at sites located along the northeast coast of the US, north of 37\textdegreeN. Such high rates are not observed with the Ishii data. Elsewhere, thermosteric rates agree reasonably well whatever the data set. Excluding the northeast US coastline sites north of 37\textdegreeN, we compare tide gauge-based sea level trends with thermosteric trends and note that, in spite of a significant correlation, the latter are too small to explain the observed trends. After correcting for thermosteric sea level trends, residual (observed minus thermosteric) trends have an average value of 1.4 \textpm 0.5 mm/year, which should have an eustatic (i.e., due to ocean mass change) origin. This result supports the recent investigation by Miller and Douglas (2004) [Miller, L., Douglas, B.C., 2004. Mass and volume contributions to 20th century global sea level rise. Nature 428, 406 408.] which suggests that a dominant eustatic contribution is needed to explain the rate of sea level rise of the last decades observed by tide gauges, and shows that Cabanes et al. (2001) [Cabanes, C., Cazenave, A., Le Provost, C., 2001. Sea level rise during past 40 years determined from satellite and in situ observations. Science 294, 840 842.] arrived at an incorrect conclusion due to peculiarities in the gridded Levitus et al. (2000) [Levitus, S., Stephens, C., Antonov, J.I., and Boyer, T.P., 2000. Yearly and Year-Season Upper Ocean Temperature Anomaly Fields, 1948 1998. U.S. Gov. Printing Office, Washington, D.C. pp. 23.] data set.
Year of Publication
2005
Journal
Global and Planetary Change
Volume
48
Number of Pages
303-312
Date Published
10/2005
URL
http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2005GPC....48..303L
DOI
10.1016/j.gloplacha.2005.02.007