Sea level variability in the Arctic Ocean observed by satellite altimetry

We investigate sea level variability in the Arctic Ocean from observations. Variability estimates are derived both at the basin scale and on smaller local spatial scales. The periods of the signals studied vary from high frequency (intra-annual) to long term trends. We also investigate the mechanisms responsible for the observed variability. Different data types are used, the main one being a recent reprocessing of satellite altimetry data in the Arctic Ocean. Satellite altimetry data is compared to tide gauges measurements, steric sea level derived from temperature and salinity fields and GRACE ocean mass estimates. We establish a consistent regional sea level budget over the GRACE availability era (2003-2009) showing that the sea level drop observed by altimetry over this period is driven by ocean mass loss rather than steric effects. The comparison of altimetry and tide gauges time series show that the two techniques are in good agreement regarding sea level trends. Coastal areas of high variability in the altimetry record are also consistent with tide gauges records. An EOF analysis of September mean altimetry fields allows identifying two regions of wind driven variability in the Arctic Ocean: the Beaufort Gyre region and the coastal European and Russian Arctic. Such patterns are related to atmospheric regimes through the Arctic Oscillation and Dipole Anomaly.
Year of Publication
Ocean Science Discussions
Number of Pages
Date Published