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Journal Articles Environmental Research Letters Year : 2020

Detecting a forced signal in satellite-era sea-level change

Kristin Richter
  • Function : Author
Aimée B. A. Slangen
  • Function : Author
Angélique Melet
  • Function : Author
John A. Church
  • Function : Author
Xavier Fettweis
  • Function : Author
Ben Marzeion
  • Function : Author
Cécile Agosta
  • Function : Author
Stefan R. M. Ligtenberg
  • Function : Author
Giorgio Spada
  • Function : Author
Matthew D. Palmer
  • Function : Author
Christopher D. Roberts
  • Function : Author


In this study, we compare the spatial patterns of simulated geocentric sea-level change to observations from satellite altimetry over the period 1993-2015 to assess whether a forced signal is detectable. This is challenging, as on these time scales internal variability plays an important role and may dominate the observed spatial patterns of regional sea-level change. Model simulations of regional sea-level change associated with sterodynamic sea level, atmospheric loading, glacier mass change, and ice-sheet surface mass balance changes are combined with observations of groundwater depletion, reservoir storage, and dynamic ice-sheet mass changes. The resulting total geocentric regional sea-level change is then compared to independent measurements from satellite altimeter observations. The detectability of the climate-forced signal is assessed by comparing the model ensemble mean of the 'historical' simulations with the characteristics of sea-level variability in pre-industrial control simulations. To further minimize the impact of internal variability, zonal averages were produced. We find that, in all ocean basins, zonally averaged simulated sea-level changes are consistent with observations within sampling uncertainties associated with simulated internal variability of the sterodynamic component. Furthermore, the simulated zonally averaged sea-level change cannot be explained by internal variability alone—thus we conclude that the observations include a forced contribution that is detectable at basin scales.
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Dates and versions

insu-03706465 , version 1 (28-06-2022)





Kristin Richter, Benoit Meyssignac, Aimée B. A. Slangen, Angélique Melet, John A. Church, et al.. Detecting a forced signal in satellite-era sea-level change. Environmental Research Letters, 2020, 15, ⟨10.1088/1748-9326/ab986e⟩. ⟨insu-03706465⟩
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