Atmospherically‐forced and chaotic interannual variability of regional sea level and its components over 1993‐2015

Type Article
Date 2021-04
Language English
Author(s) Carret AliceORCID1, Llovel William2, Penduff ThierryORCID3, Molines Jean‐marc3
Affiliation(s) 1 : Laboratoire d'Etudes en Géophysique et Océanographie Spatiale (LEGOS) CNRS/IRD/UPS/CNES Toulouse, France
2 : Laboratoire d’Océanographie Physique et Spatiale (LOPS) University of Brest / IFREMER / IRD / CNRS Brest ,France
3 : Université Grenoble Alpes CNRS IRD Institut des Géosciences de l'Environnement (IGE) Grenoble‐INP Grenoble, France
Source Journal Of Geophysical Research-oceans (2169-9275) (American Geophysical Union (AGU)), 2021-04 , Vol. 126 , N. 4 , P. e2020JC017123 (15p.)
DOI 10.1029/2020JC017123
WOS© Times Cited 3
Abstract

Satellite altimetry data have revealed a global mean sea level rise of 3.1 mm/yr since 1993 with large regional sea level variability. These remote data highlight complex structures especially in strongly eddying regions. A recent study showed that over 38% of the global ocean area, the chaotic variability may hinder the attribution to the atmospheric forcing of regional sea level trends from 1993 to 2015. This study aims to complement this work by focusing on the atmospherically‐forced and chaotic interannual variability of regional sea level and its components. At interannual time scales, variability can hamper the detection of regional sea level trends. A global ¼° ocean/sea‐ice 50‐member ensemble simulation is analyzed to disentangle the imprints of the atmospheric forcing and of the chaotic ocean variability on the interannual variability of regional sea level and of its steric and manometric components over 1993‐2015. The atmospherically‐forced and chaotic interannual variabilities of sea level mainly have a steric origin, except in coastal areas. The chaotic part of the interannual variability of sea level and its components is stronger in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans than in the Indian ocean. The chaotic part of the interannual variance of sea level and of its steric component exceeds 20% over 48% of the global ocean area; this fractional area reduces to 26% for the manometric component. These results confirm the substantial imprint of the chaotic interannual variability on sea level components, questioning in several regions the attribution of their observed evolution to atmospheric causes.

Plain Langage Summary

Since the early 1990s, satellite altimetry has become the main observing system for continuously measuring the sea level variations with a near global coverage. It has revealed a global mean sea level rise of 3.1 mm/yr since 1993 with large regional sea level variability that differs from the mean estimate. These measurements highlight complex structures especially for the western boundary currents (Gulf Stream or Kuroshio) or the Antarctic Circumpolar Current. Recent studies based on numerical modelling showed that the ocean spontaneously generates a chaotic intrinsic variability that substantially impacts the sea level interannual‐to‐decadal variability and its long‐term trends. It is important to note that sea level observations simultaneously record these chaotic variations in the ocean but also the response to the atmospheric forcings. Here, we use a 50‐member ensemble ocean simulation to disentangle the atmospherically‐forced and chaotic parts of the interannual variability of sea level and of its steric and manometric components. We found that, in several regions, the chaotic interannual variability has a large imprint on sea level components. While these results do not question the anthropic origin of global mean sea level rise, they give new insights into the oceanic versus non‐oceanic origin of regional interannual variability.

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How to cite 

Carret Alice, Llovel William, Penduff Thierry, Molines Jean‐marc (2021). Atmospherically‐forced and chaotic interannual variability of regional sea level and its components over 1993‐2015. Journal Of Geophysical Research-oceans, 126(4), e2020JC017123 (15p.). Publisher's official version : https://doi.org/10.1029/2020JC017123 , Open Access version : https://archimer.ifremer.fr/doc/00685/79699/