AGW Observer

Observations of anthropogenic global warming

Papers on global sea level

Posted by Ari Jokimäki on October 12, 2009

This is a list of papers about sea level with an emphasis on global long time trends. The list is not complete, and will most likely be updated in the future in order to make it more thorough and more representative. This list has three sections: Modern sea level changes, historical sea level changes, and future sea level projections. Also the list of ocean temperature papers has relevant papers for this issue.

UPDATE (September 24, 2012): Jevrejeva et al. (2006), Ray & Douglas (2011), Church & White (2011), and Church et al. (2011) added. Thanks to Barry for pointing them out.
UPDATE (April 18, 2012): Raymo & Mitrovica (2012). Thanks to Barry for pointing it out.
UPDATE (April 2, 2012): Kemp et al. (2011) added. Thanks to Barry for pointing it out.
UPDATE (March 31, 2010): Cazenave & Llovel (2010) added, thanks to Skagedal for pointing it out, see the comment section below.
UPDATE (February 27, 2010): Future sea level projections added and some papers to it that were suggested by PeterPan and Kit Stolz (see the comment section below), thanks to them.
UPDATE (February 25, 2010): Domingues et al. (2008) and Ablain et al. (2009) added, thanks to Barry for pointing them out, see the comment section below.
UPDATE (December 9, 2009): Jevrejeva et al. (2009) added.

Modern sea level changes

Revisiting the Earth’s sea-level and energy budgets from 1961 to 2008 – Church et al. (2011) “We review the sea-level and energy budgets together from 1961, using recent and updated estimates of all terms. From 1972 to 2008, the observed sea-level rise (1.8 ± 0.2 mm yr−1 from tide gauges alone and 2.1 ± 0.2 mm yr−1 from a combination of tide gauges and altimeter observations) agrees well with the sum of contributions (1.8 ± 0.4 mm yr−1) in magnitude and with both having similar increases in the rate of rise during the period. The largest contributions come from ocean thermal expansion (0.8 mm yr−1) and the melting of glaciers and ice caps (0.7 mm yr−1), with Greenland and Antarctica contributing about 0.4 mm yr−1. The cryospheric contributions increase through the period (particularly in the 1990s) but the thermosteric contribution increases less rapidly. We include an improved estimate of aquifer depletion (0.3 mm yr−1), partially offsetting the retention of water in dams and giving a total terrestrial storage contribution of −0.1 mm yr−1. Ocean warming (90% of the total of the Earth’s energy increase) continues through to the end of the record, in agreement with continued greenhouse gas forcing. The aerosol forcing, inferred as a residual in the atmospheric energy balance, is estimated as −0.8 ± 0.4 W m−2 for the 1980s and early 1990s. It increases in the late 1990s, as is required for consistency with little surface warming over the last decade. This increase is likely at least partially related to substantial increases in aerosol emissions from developing nations and moderate volcanic activity.” Church, J. A., N. J. White, L. F. Konikow, C. M. Domingues, J. G. Cogley, E. Rignot, J. M. Gregory, M. R. van den Broeke, A. J. Monaghan, and I. Velicogna (2011), Revisiting the Earth’s sea-level and energy budgets from 1961 to 2008, Geophys. Res. Lett., 38, L18601, doi:10.1029/2011GL048794. [Full text]

Sea-Level Rise from the Late 19th to the Early 21st Century – Church & White (2011) “We estimate the rise in global average sea level from satellite altimeter data for 1993–2009 and from coastal and island sea-level measurements from 1880 to 2009. For 1993–2009 and after correcting for glacial isostatic adjustment, the estimated rate of rise is 3.2 ± 0.4 mm year−1 from the satellite data and 2.8 ± 0.8 mm year−1 from the in situ data. The global average sea-level rise from 1880 to 2009 is about 210 mm. The linear trend from 1900 to 2009 is 1.7 ± 0.2 mm year−1 and since 1961 is 1.9 ± 0.4 mm year−1. There is considerable variability in the rate of rise during the twentieth century but there has been a statistically significant acceleration since 1880 and 1900 of 0.009 ± 0.003 mm year−2 and 0.009 ± 0.004 mm year−2, respectively. Since the start of the altimeter record in 1993, global average sea level rose at a rate near the upper end of the sea level projections of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Third and Fourth Assessment Reports. However, the reconstruction indicates there was little net change in sea level from 1990 to 1993, most likely as a result of the volcanic eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991.” John A. Church and Neil J. White, Surveys in Geophysics, 2011, Volume 32, Numbers 4-5, Pages 585-602, DOI: 10.1007/s10712-011-9119-1. [Full text]

Experiments in reconstructing twentieth-century sea levels – Ray & Douglas (2011) “One approach to reconstructing historical sea level from the relatively sparse tide-gauge network is to employ Empirical Orthogonal Functions (EOFs) as interpolatory spatial basis functions. The EOFs are determined from independent global data, generally sea-surface heights from either satellite altimetry or a numerical ocean model. The problem is revisited here for sea level since 1900. A new approach to handling the tide-gauge datum problem by direct solution offers possible advantages over the method of integrating sea-level differences, with the potential of eventually adjusting datums into the global terrestrial reference frame. The resulting time series of global mean sea levels appears fairly insensitive to the adopted set of EOFs. In contrast, charts of regional sea level anomalies and trends are very sensitive to the adopted set of EOFs, especially for the sparser network of gauges in the early 20th century. The reconstructions appear especially suspect before 1950 in the tropical Pacific. While this limits some applications of the sea-level reconstructions, the sensitivity does appear adequately captured by formal uncertainties. All our solutions show regional trends over the past five decades to be fairly uniform throughout the global ocean, in contrast to trends observed over the shorter altimeter era. Consistent with several previous estimates, the global sea-level rise since 1900 is 1.70 ± 0.26 mm yr−1. The global trend since 1995 exceeds 3 mm yr−1 which is consistent with altimeter measurements, but this large trend was possibly also reached between 1935 and 1950.” Richard D. Ray, Bruce C. Douglas, Progress In Oceanography, Volume 91, Issue 4, December 2011, Pages 496–515, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pocean.2011.07.021.

Climate related sea-level variations over the past two millennia – Kemp et al. (2011) “We present new sea-level reconstructions for the past 2100 y based on salt-marsh sedimentary sequences from the US Atlantic coast. The data from North Carolina reveal four phases of persistent sea-level change after correction for glacial isostatic adjustment. Sea level was stable from at least BC 100 until AD 950. Sea level then increased for 400 y at a rate of 0.6 mm/y, followed by a further period of stable, or slightly falling, sea level that persisted until the late 19th century. Since then, sea level has risen at an average rate of 2.1 mm/y, representing the steepest century-scale increase of the past two millennia. This rate was initiated between AD 1865 and 1892. Using an extended semiempirical modeling approach, we show that these sea-level changes are consistent with global temperature for at least the past millennium.” Andrew C. Kemp, Benjamin P. Horton, Jeffrey P. Donnelly, Michael E. Mann, Martin Vermeer, and Stefan Rahmstorf, PNAS July 5, 2011 vol. 108 no. 27 11017-11022, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1015619108. [Full text]

Contemporary Sea Level Rise – Cazenave & Llovel (2010) A review article. “Here we report on most recent results on contemporary sea level rise. We first present sea level observations from tide gauges over the twentieth century and from satellite altimetry since the early 1990s. We next discuss the most recent progress made in quantifying the processes causing sea level change on timescales ranging from years to decades, i.e., thermal expansion of the oceans, land ice mass loss, and land water–storage change. We show that for the 1993–2007 time span, the sum of climate-related contributions (2.85 ± 0.35 mm year−1) is only slightly less than altimetry-based sea level rise (3.3 ± 0.4 mm year−1): 30% of the observed rate of rise is due to ocean thermal expansion and 55% results from land ice melt. Recent acceleration in glacier melting and ice mass loss from the ice sheets increases the latter contribution up to 80% for the past five years.” Anny Cazenave and William Llovel, Annual Review of Marine Science, Vol. 2: 145-173 (Volume publication date January 2010), DOI: 10.1146/annurev-marine-120308-081105. [Full text]

A new assessment of the error budget of global mean sea level rate estimated by satellite altimetry over 1993–2008 – Ablain et al. (2009) “A new error budget assessment of the global Mean Sea Level (MSL) determined by TOPEX/Poseidon and Jason-1 altimeter satellites between January 1993 and June 2008 is presented using last altimeter standards. We discuss all potential errors affecting the calculation of the global MSL rate. … These new calculations highlight a reduction in the rate of sea level rise since 2005, by ~2 mm/yr. This represents a 60% reduction compared to the 3.3 mm/yr sea level rise (glacial isostatic adjustment correction applied) measured between 1993 and 2005. Since November 2005, MSL is accurately measured by a single satellite, Jason-1. However the error analysis performed here indicates that the recent reduction in MSL rate is real.” [Full text]

Anthropogenic forcing dominates sea level rise since 1850 – Jevrejeva et al. (2009) “Here we use a delayed response statistical model to attribute the past 1000 years of sea level variability to various natural (volcanic and solar radiative) and anthropogenic (greenhouse gases and aerosols) forcings. We show that until 1800 the main drivers of sea level change are volcanic and solar radiative forcings. For the past 200 years sea level rise is mostly associated with anthropogenic factors. Only 4 ± 1.5 cm (25% of total sea level rise) during the 20th century is attributed to natural forcings, the remaining 14 ± 1.5 cm are due to a rapid increase in CO2 and other greenhouse gases.” [Full text]

An anomalous recent acceleration of global sea level rise – Merrifield et al. (2009) “The average global sea level trend for the time segments centered on 1962 through 1990 is 1.5 ± 0.5 mm yr−1 (standard error), in agreement with previous estimates of late 20th century sea level rise. After 1990, the global trend increases to the most recent rate of 3.2 ± 0.4 mm yr−1, matching estimates obtained from satellite altimetry. The acceleration is distinct from decadal variations in global sea level that have been reported in previous studies. Increased rates in the tropical and southern oceans primarily account for the acceleration. The timing of the global acceleration corresponds to similar sea level trend changes associated with upper ocean heat content and ice melt.”

Improved estimates of upper-ocean warming and multi-decadal sea-level rise – Domingues et al. (2008) “Our ocean warming and thermal expansion trends for 1961–2003 are about 50 per cent larger than earlier estimates but about 40 per cent smaller for 1993–2003, which is consistent with the recognition that previously estimated rates for the 1990s had a positive bias as a result of instrumental errors. … We add our observational estimate of upper-ocean thermal expansion to other contributions to sea-level rise and find that the sum of contributions from 1961 to 2003 is about 1.560.4mm yr-1, in good agreement with our updated estimate of near-global mean sea-level rise (using techniques established in earlier studies) of 1.660.2mm yr-1.” [Full text]

Understanding global sea levels: past, present and future – Church et al. (2008) “While sea levels have varied by over 120 m during glacial/interglacial cycles, there has been little net rise over the past several millennia until the 19th century and early 20th century, when geological and tide-gauge data indicate an increase in the rate of sea-level rise. Recent satellite-altimeter data and tide-gauge data have indicated that sea levels are now rising at over 3 mm year−1. The major contributions to 20th and 21st century sea-level rise are thought to be a result of ocean thermal expansion and the melting of glaciers and ice caps.” [Full text]

Recent global sea level acceleration started over 200 years ago? – Jevrejeva et al. (2008) “We present a reconstruction of global sea level (GSL) since 1700 calculated from tide gauge records and analyse the evolution of global sea level acceleration during the past 300 years. We provide observational evidence that sea level acceleration up to the present has been about 0.01 mm/yr2 and appears to have started at the end of the 18th century. Sea level rose by 6 cm during the 19th century and 19 cm in the 20th century. Superimposed on the long-term acceleration are quasi-periodic fluctuations with a period of about 60 years. If the conditions that established the acceleration continue, then sea level will rise 34 cm over the 21st century. Long time constants in oceanic heat content and increased ice sheet melting imply that the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates of sea level are probably too low.” [Full text]

A 20th century acceleration in global sea-level rise – Church & White (2006) “Multi-century sea-level records and climate models indicate an acceleration of sea-level rise, but no 20th century acceleration has previously been detected. … Here, we extend the reconstruction of global mean sea level back to 1870 and find a sea-level rise from January 1870 to December 2004 of 195 mm, a 20th century rate of sea-level rise of 1.7 ± 0.3 mm yr−1 and a significant acceleration of sea-level rise of 0.013 ± 0.006 mm yr−2. This acceleration is an important confirmation of climate change simulations which show an acceleration not previously observed.” [Full text]

Nonlinear trends and multiyear cycles in sea level records – Jevrejeva et al. (2006) “We analyze the Permanent Service for Mean Sea Level (PSMSL) database of sea level time series using a method based on Monte Carlo Singular Spectrum Analysis (MC-SSA). We remove 2–30 year quasi-periodic oscillations and determine the nonlinear long-term trends for 12 large ocean regions. Our global sea level trend estimate of 2.4 ± 1.0 mm/yr for the period from 1993 to 2000 is comparable with the 2.6 ± 0.7 mm/yr sea level rise calculated from TOPEX/Poseidon altimeter measurements. However, we show that over the last 100 years the rate of 2.5 ± 1.0 mm/yr occurred between 1920 and 1945, is likely to be as large as the 1990s, and resulted in a mean sea level rise of 48 mm. We evaluate errors in sea level using two independent approaches, the robust bi-weight mean and variance, and a novel “virtual station” approach that utilizes geographic locations of stations. Results suggest that a region cannot be adequately represented by a simple mean curve with standard error, assuming all stations are independent, as multiyear cycles within regions are very significant. Additionally, much of the between-region mismatch errors are due to multiyear cycles in the global sea level that limit the ability of simple means to capture sea level accurately. We demonstrate that variability in sea level records over periods 2–30 years has increased during the past 50 years in most ocean basins.” Jevrejeva, S., A. Grinsted, J. C. Moore, and S. Holgate (2006), Nonlinear trends and multiyear cycles in sea level records, J. Geophys. Res., 111, C09012, doi:10.1029/2005JC003229. [Full text]

Rapid sea-level rise in the North Atlantic Ocean since the first half of the nineteenth century – Gehrels et al. (2006) “A high-resolution late-Holocene sea-level record is produced from salt-marsh deposits at Vioarhólmi in Snæfellsnes, western Iceland. … Our reconstruction indicates that relative sea level along the coast of western Iceland has risen by about 1.3 m since c. AD 100. The detrended sea-level record shows a slow rise between AD 100 and 500, followed by a slow downward trend reaching a lowstand in the first half of the nineteenth century. This falling trend is consistent with a steric change estimated from reconstructions of sea-surface and sea-bottom temperatures from shelf sediments off Northern Iceland. The sea-level record shows a marked recent rise of about 0.4 m that commenced AD 1820±20 as dated by palaeomagnetism and Pb produced by European coal burning. This rapid sea-level rise is interpreted to be related to global temperature rise. The rise has continued up to the present day and has also been measured, since 1957, by the Reykjavik tide gauge.”

Coupling instrumental and geological records of sea-level change: Evidence from southern New England of an increase in the rate of sea-level rise in the late 19th century – Donnelly et al. (2004) “We construct a high-resolution relative sea-level record for the past 700 years by dating basal salt-marsh peat samples above a glacial erratic in an eastern Connecticut salt marsh, to test whether or not the apparent recent acceleration in the rate of sea-level rise (SLR) is coeval with climate warming. The data reveal an average SLR rate of 1.0 ± 0.2 mm/year from about 1300 to 1850 A.D. Coupling of the regional tide-gauge data (1856 to present) with this marsh-based record indicates that the nearly three-fold increase in the regional rate of SLR to modern levels likely occurred in the later half of the 19th century. Thus the timing of the observed SLR rate increase is coincident with the onset of climate warming, indicating a possible link between historic SLR increases and recent temperature increases.” [Full text]

Mass and volume contributions to twentieth-century global sea level rise – Miller & Douglas (2004) “We find that gauge-determined rates of sea level rise, which encompass both mass and volume changes, are two to three times higher than the rates due to volume change derived from temperature and salinity data. Our analysis supports earlier studies that put the twentieth-century rate in the 1.5–2.0 mm yr-1 range, but more importantly it suggests that mass increase plays a larger role than ocean warming in twentieth-century global sea level rise.” [Full text]

The Puzzle of Global Sea-Level Rise – Douglas & Peltier (2002) “Global sea level (GSL) embodies many aspects of the global hydrological cycle and reflects the heat content of the oceans because the density of sea water depends on temperature. GSL is therefore a potent indicator of climate change and a key observational constraint on climate models.” [Full text]

Global Sea Level Acceleration – Douglas (1992) “Greenhouse warming scenarios commonly forecast an acceleration of sea level rise in the next 5 or 6+ decades in the range 0.1–0.2 mm/yr2. … Thus there is no evidence for an apparent acceleration in the past 100+ years that is significant either statistically, or in comparison to values associated with global warming. … This means that tide gauges alone cannot serve as a leading indicator of climate change in less than at least several decades.”

Global Sea Level Rise – Douglas (1990) “The value for mean sea level rise obtained from a global set of 21 such stations in nine oceanic regions with an average record length of 76 years during the period 1880–1980 is 1.8 mm/yr ± 0.1. This result provides confidence that carefully selected long tide gauge records measure the same underlying trend of sea level and that many old tide gauge records are of very high quality.”

Global sea level rise and the greenhouse effect – Might they be connected? – Peltier & Tushingham (1989) “When the tide gauge data are filtered so as to remove the contribution of ongoing glacial isostatic adjustment to the local sea level trend at each location, then the individual tide gauge records reveal sharply reduced geographic scatter and suggest that there is a globally coherent signal of strength 2.4 + or – 0.90 millimeters per year that is active in the system. This signal could constitute an indication of global climate warming.”

Contribution of Small Glaciers to Global Sea Level – Meier (1984) “Observed long-term changes in glacier volume and hydrometeorological mass balance models yield data on the transfer of water from glaciers, excluding those in Greenland and Antarctica, to the oceans. The average observed volume change for the period 1900 to 1961 is scaled to a global average by use of the seasonal amplitude of the mass balance. These data are used to calibrate the models to estimate the changing contribution of glaciers to sea level for the period 1884 to 1975. Although the error band is large, these glaciers appear to account for a third to half of observed rise in sea level, approximately that fraction not explained by thermal expansion of the ocean.”

The estimation of ‘‘global’’ sea level change: A problem of uniqueness – Barnett (1984) “The study results suggest that it is not possible to uniquely determine either a global rate of change of SL or even the average rate of change associated with the existing (inadequate) data set. Indeed, different analysis methods, by themselves, can cause 50% variations in the estimates of SL trend in the existing data set. A signal/noise analysis suggests it should be easy to detect small, future changes in the SL trends estimated for the period 1930–1980. However, detection of theoretically predicted low-frequency signals (e.g., caused by CO2 warming) will be difficult in view of the huge, low-frequency, natural variability associated with glacial/tectonic processes.”

Global Sea Level Trend in the Past Century – Gornitz et al. (1982) “Data derived from tide-gauge stations throughout the world indicate that the mean sea level rose by about 12 centimeters in the past century. The sea level change has a high correlation with the trend of global surface air temperature. A large part of the sea level rise can be accounted for in terms of the thermal expansion of the upper layers of the ocean. The results also represent weak indirect evidence for a net melting of the continental ice sheets.” [Full text]

Historical sea level changes

Collapse of polar ice sheets during the stage 11 interglacial – Raymo & Mitrovica (2012) “Contentious observations of Pleistocene shoreline features on the tectonically stable islands of Bermuda and the Bahamas have suggested that sea level about 400,000 years ago was more than 20 metres higher than it is today. Geochronologic and geomorphic evidence indicates that these features formed during interglacial marine isotope stage (MIS) 11, an unusually long interval of warmth during the ice age. Previous work has advanced two divergent hypotheses for these shoreline features: first, significant melting of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet, in addition to the collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet and the Greenland Ice Sheet; or second, emplacement by a mega-tsunami during MIS 11 (ref. 4, 5). Here we show that the elevations of these features are corrected downwards by ~10 metres when we account for post-glacial crustal subsidence of these sites over the course of the anomalously long interglacial. On the basis of this correction, we estimate that eustatic sea level rose to ~6–13 m above the present-day value in the second half of MIS 11. This suggests that both the Greenland Ice Sheet and the West Antarctic Ice Sheet collapsed during the protracted warm period while changes in the volume of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet were relatively minor, thereby resolving the long-standing controversy over the stability of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet during MIS 11.” Maureen E. Raymo & Jerry X. Mitrovica, Nature, 483, 453–456, (22 March 2012), doi:10.1038/nature10891. [Full text]

The Phanerozoic Record of Global Sea-Level Change – Miller et al. (2005) “We review Phanerozoic sea-level changes [543 million years ago (Ma) to the present] on various time scales and present a new sea-level record for the past 100 million years (My). Long-term sea level peaked at 100 ± 50 meters during the Cretaceous, implying that ocean-crust production rates were much lower than previously inferred.” [Full text]

Cenozoic Global Sea Level, Sequences, and the New Jersey Transect: Results From Coastal Plain and Continental Slope Drilling – Miller et al. (1998) “The New Jersey Sea Level Transect was designed to evaluate the relationships among global sea level (eustatic) change, unconformity-bounded sequences, and variations in subsidence, sediment supply, and climate on a passive continental margin. By sampling and dating Cenozoic strata from coastal plain and continental slope locations, we show that sequence boundaries correlate (within ±0.5 myr) regionally (onshore-offshore) and interregionally (New Jersey-Alabama-Bahamas), implicating a global cause. … We conclude that the New Jersey margin provides a natural laboratory for unraveling complex interactions of eustasy, tectonics, changes in sediment supply, and climate change.” [Full text]

Deglacial sea-level record from Tahiti corals and the timing of global meltwater discharge – Bard et al. (1996) “Here we date fossil corals from Tahiti, which is far from plate boundaries (and thus is likely to be tectonically relatively stable) and remote from the locations of large former ice sheets. The resulting record indicates a large sea-level jump shortly before 13,800 calendar years BP, which corresponds to meltwater pulse 1A in the Barbados coral records. The timing of this event is more accurately constrained in the Tahiti record, revealing that the meltwater pulse coincides with a short and intense climate cooling event that followed the initiation of the Bølling–Allerød warm period, but preceded the Younger Dryas cold event by about 1,000 years.”

Chronology of Fluctuating Sea Levels Since the Triassic – Haq et al. (1987) “An effort has been made to develop a realistic and accurate time scale and widely applicable chronostratigraphy and to integrate depositional sequences documented in public domain outcrop sections from various basins with this chronostratigraphic framework. A description of this approach and an account of the results, illustrated by sea level cycle charts of the Cenozoic, Cretaceous, Jurassic, and Triassic intervals, are presented.” [Full text]

Future sea level projections

Global sea level linked to global temperature – Vermeer & Rahmstorf (2009) “We propose a simple relationship linking global sea-level variations on time scales of decades to centuries to global mean temperature. This relationship is tested on synthetic data from a global climate model for the past millennium and the next century. When applied to observed data of sea level and temperature for 1880–2000, and taking into account known anthropogenic hydrologic contributions to sea level, the correlation is >0.99, explaining 98% of the variance. For future global temperature scenarios of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fourth Assessment Report, the relationship projects a sea-level rise ranging from 75 to 190 cm for the period 1990–2100.” [Full text]

Reconstructing sea level from paleo and projected temperatures 200 to 2100 ad – Grinsted et al. (2009) “We use a physically plausible four parameter linear response equation to relate 2,000 years of global temperatures and sea level. … Over the last 2,000 years minimum sea level (−19 to −26 cm) occurred around 1730 ad, maximum sea level (12–21 cm) around 1150 ad. Sea level 2090–2099 is projected to be 0.9 to 1.3 m for the A1B scenario, with low probability of the rise being within IPCC confidence limits.” [Full text]

Reassessment of the Potential Sea-Level Rise from a Collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet – Bamber et al. (2009) “We reassess the potential contribution to eustatic and regional sea level from a rapid collapse of the ice sheet and find that previous assessments have substantially overestimated its likely primary contribution. We obtain a value for the global, eustatic sea-level rise contribution of about 3.3 meters, with important regional variations.”

Kinematic Constraints on Glacier Contributions to 21st-Century Sea-Level Rise – Pfeffer et al. (2008) “We consider glaciological conditions required for large sea-level rise to occur by 2100 and conclude that increases in excess of 2 meters are physically untenable. We find that a total sea-level rise of about 2 meters by 2100 could occur under physically possible glaciological conditions but only if all variables are quickly accelerated to extremely high limits. More plausible but still accelerated conditions lead to total sea-level rise by 2100 of about 0.8 meter.”

A Semi-Empirical Approach to Projecting Future Sea-Level Rise – Rahmstorf (2006) “A semi-empirical relation is presented that connects global sea-level rise to global mean surface temperature. It is proposed that, for time scales relevant to anthropogenic warming, the rate of sea-level rise is roughly proportional to the magnitude of warming above the temperatures of the pre–Industrial Age. This holds to good approximation for temperature and sea-level changes during the 20th century, with a proportionality constant of 3.4 millimeters/year per °C. When applied to future warming scenarios of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, this relationship results in a projected sea-level rise in 2100 of 0.5 to 1.4 meters above the 1990 level.” [Full text], [comment, Holgate et al. (2007)], [comment, Schmith et al. (2007)], [Rahmstorf response (2007)]

21 Responses to “Papers on global sea level”

  1. Kit Stolz said

    I was hoping you might have this paper available, but that’s okay…I appreciate the remarkable service you are providing.

  2. Kit Stolz said

    Opps…don’t know what happened to the title: http://science.samxxzy.ns02.info/cgi/content/abstract/sci;324/5929/901

    It’s called “Reassessment of Potential Sea-Level Rise from Potential Collapse of West Antarctica Ice Sheet” by Bamber et al May 2009 in Science.

  3. Ari Jokimäki said

    That one doesn’t seem to be available for free. This list also is for observations of already happened sea level trends, but it seems that I failed to mention that. I’ll update the introduction text above. At some point in the future I might do a paperlist of sea level estimates, and a paperlist of ice sheet observations. That paper would fit nicely to either one of them. Thanks anyway for the pointer to the paper, at least it has given me two new paperlist subjects.🙂

  4. Ari Jokimäki said

    I added Jevrejeva et al. (2009).

  5. PeterPan said

    Papers on future projections may also be of interest:

    A Semi-Empirical Approach to Projecting Future Sea-Level Rise – Rahmstorf (2008)
    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/315/5810/368
    http://www.pik-potsdam.de/~stefan/Publications/Nature/rahmstorf_science_2007.pdf

    *Two critics:
    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/sci;317/5846/1866b
    http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/1159/1/commentOnRahmstorf_NORA.pdf
    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/sci;317/5846/1866d
    http://www.math.ku.dk/~sjo/papers/SciencePaper.pdf

    *Response from Rahmstorf:
    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/sci;317/5846/1866d
    http://www.pik-potsdam.de/~stefan/Publications/Nature/rahmstorf_science_response_2007.pdf

    Kinematic Constraints on Glacier Contributions to 21st-Century Sea-Level Rise – Pfeffer et al (2008)
    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/321/5894/1340

    Reconstructing sea level from paleo and projected temperatures 200 to 2100 ad – Grinsted et al (2009)
    http://www.springerlink.com/content/527178062596k202/
    http://meetingorganizer.copernicus.org/EGU2009/EGU2009-8844.pdf

    Global sea level linked to global temperature – Vermeer & Rahmstorf (2009)
    http://www.pnas.org/content/106/51/21527
    http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2009/12/04/0907765106.full.pdf

    The list may also include this conservative one:
    Constraints on future sea-level rise from past sea-level change – Siddall et al (2009)
    However, it appears to have an error which correcting gives the numbers close to Rahmstorf’s:
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/11/copenhagen/comment-page-2/#comment-144353
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/08/ups-and-downs-of-sea-level-projections/

  6. Ari Jokimäki said

    Thanks. I’ll use these when I make the future sea level list. This comment section already contains several such papers, so I might do it very soon.

  7. barry said

    Sea level rise 1950 – 2003. One for the list?

    Changes in the climate system’s energy budget are predominantly revealed in ocean temperatures and the associated thermal expansion contribution to sea-level rise. Climatemodels, however, do not reproduce the large decadal variability in globally averaged ocean heat content inferred from the sparse observational database, even when volcanic and other variable climate forcings are included. The sum of the observed contributions has also not adequately explained the overall multi-decadal rise. Here we report improved estimates of near-global ocean heat content and thermal expansion for the upper 300m and 700m of the ocean for 1950–2003, using statistical techniques that allow for sparse data
    coverage and applying recent corrections8 to reduce systematic biases in the most common ocean temperature observations.

    http://www.astepback.com/GEP/Nature%20Higher%20Warming%20SLR%20rates.pdf

    And one on the error budget for satellite altimetry.

    On the one hand, thanks to the analysis of each error budget, we show that the global MSL trend is 3.11±0.6 mm/yr over the whole altimetric period (1993-2008) with a confidence interval of 90%. On the other hand, the altimeter MSL drift derived from altimeter and tide gauge comparisons is on the same order close to +0.3±0.5 mm/yr. The good consistency of these both independent approaches demonstrates the reliability of T/P and Jason-1 altimeter data to compute the global MSL trend from 1993 to 2008.

    http://www.ocean-sci.net/5/193/2009/os-5-193-2009.pdf

  8. Ari Jokimäki said

    Thanks, Barry. I added Domingues et al. (2008) and Ablain et al. (2009). I actually had Domingues et al. (2008) already in the ocean temperature list but it’s good to add it here as well.

    I notice that I had forgotten the sea level projection list I promised above. Now it feels that perhaps I’ll just add a separate section for them to this list. I’ll work on that soon. Remind me if I forget once again…

  9. Ari Jokimäki said

    I added future sea level projections section and the papers suggested by PeterPan and Kit Stolz. However, I left the Siddall et al. (2009) out as it appears to be in error.

  10. skagedal said

    Here’s another recent review: Cazenave & Llovel, 2010 (or should that be 2009? published online in 2009, volume publication in 2010)

    Excellent site you’ve got here! Kiitos!

  11. Ari Jokimäki said

    Thanks, I added it.🙂 (I think the publication year is taken from the official journal publication, so it’s 2010 for this one.)

  12. barry said

    I’m pretty skeptical about using a single location as a proxy for global sea level, but perhaps local effects matter less over the long-term. Also, they intercompare with some other proxy sites around the world.

    Climate related sea-level variations over the past two millennia – (Kemp et al 2011)

    We present new sea-level reconstructions for the past 2100 y based on salt-marsh sedimentary sequences from the US Atlantic coast. The data from North Carolina reveal four phases of persistent sea-level change after correction for glacial isostatic adjustment. Sea level was stable from at least BC 100 until AD 950. Sea level then increased for 400 y at a rate of 0.6 mm/y, followed by a further period of stable, or slightly falling, sea level that persisted until the late 19th century. Since then, sea level has risen at an average rate of 2.1 mm/y, representing the steepest century-scale increase of the past two millennia. This rate was initiated between AD 1865 and 1892. Using an extended semiempirical modeling approach, we show that these sea-level changes are consistent with global temperature for at least the past millennium.

    http://holocene.meteo.psu.edu/shared/articles/KempetalPNAS11.pdf

  13. Ari Jokimäki said

    I added Kemp et al. (2011), thanks Barry.

  14. barry said

    For the historical section…?

    Collapse of polar ice sheets during the stage 11 interglacial

    Raymo and Mitrovica (2012)

    Contentious observations of Pleistocene shoreline features on the tectonically stable islands of Bermuda and the Bahamas have suggested that sea level about 400,000 years ago was more than 20 metres higher than it is today. Geochronologic and geomorphic evidence indicates that these features formed during interglacial marine isotope stage (MIS) 11, an unusually long interval of warmth during the ice age. Previous work has advanced two divergent hypotheses for these shoreline features: first, significant melting of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet, in addition to the collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet and the Greenland Ice Sheet; or second, emplacement by a mega-tsunami during MIS 11. Here we show that the elevations of these features are corrected downwards by ~10 metres when we account for post-glacial crustal subsidence of these sites over the course of the anomalously long interglacial. On the basis of this correction, we estimate that eustatic sea level rose to ~6–13 m above the present-day value in the second half of MIS 11. This suggests that both the Greenland Ice Sheet and the West Antarctic Ice Sheet collapsed during the protracted warm period while changes in the volume of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet were relatively minor, thereby resolving the long-standing controversy over the stability of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet during MIS 11.

    Alternatively, maybe it would fit in “Papers on glacial terminations”.

  15. Ari Jokimäki said

    Thanks, I added it here. Glacial termination list is more about causes of glacial terminations, while this paper is more about impacts of climate change.

  16. barry said

    Ari, full version for

    Contemporary Sea Level Rise – Cazenave & Llovel (2010)

    http://www.icess.ucsb.edu/~davey/Geog163/Readings/annurev-marine-120308-081105.pdf

  17. Ari Jokimäki said

    Thanks, I added the link.

  18. barry said

    Link to Jevrejeva 2008 FULL appears to be dead. Here’s working one.

    http://www.psmsl.org/products/reconstructions/2008GL033611.pdf

    That paper refers to their paper from 2006:

    We analyze the Permanent Service for Mean Sea Level (PSMSL) database of sea level time series using a method based on Monte Carlo Singular Spectrum Analysis (MC-SSA). We remove 2–30 year quasi-periodic oscillations and determine the nonlinear long-term trends for 12 large ocean regions. Our global sea level trend estimate of 2.4 ± 1.0 mm/yr for the period from 1993 to 2000 is comparable with the 2.6 ± 0.7 mm/yr sea level rise calculated from TOPEX/Poseidon altimeter measurements. However, we show that over the last 100 years the rate of 2.5 ± 1.0 mm/yr occurred between 1920 and 1945, is likely to be as large as the 1990s, and resulted in a mean sea level rise of 48 mm.

    Nonlinear trends and multiyear cycles in sea level records – Jevrejeva et al 2006

    FULL version: http://www.mindtickler.com/soapbox/2005JC003229.pdf

    (tried to get a simple, working web address)

    ——————————————————————————————

    Jevrejeva 2009 has a full version link now: http://www.environmentportal.in/files/Anthro.pdf

    There are other links, but that was the simplest. Not sure of your criteria for which full version to link.

  19. barry said

    Mainly about ocean heat content, but directed to estimating the effects of thermal expansion on the modern sea level budget.

    We provide updated estimates of the change of ocean heat content and the thermosteric component of sea level change of the 0–700 and 0–2000 m layers of the World Ocean for 1955–2010. Our estimates are based on historical data not previously available, additional modern data, and bathythermograph data corrected for instrumental biases. We have also used Argo data corrected by the Argo DAC if available and used uncorrected Argo data if no corrections were available at the time we downloaded the Argo data. The heat content of the World Ocean for the 0–2000 m layer increased by 24.0 ± 1.9 × 1022 J (±2S.E.) corresponding to a rate of 0.39 W m−2 (per unit area of the World Ocean) and a volume mean warming of 0.09°C. This warming corresponds to a rate of 0.27 W m−2 per unit area of earth’s surface. The heat content of the World Ocean for the 0–700 m layer increased by 16.7 ± 1.6 × 1022 J corresponding to a rate of 0.27 W m−2 (per unit area of the World Ocean) and a volume mean warming of 0.18°C. The World Ocean accounts for approximately 93% of the warming of the earth system that has occurred since 1955. The 700–2000 m ocean layer accounted for approximately one-third of the warming of the 0–2000 m layer of the World Ocean. The thermosteric component of sea level trend was 0.54 ± .05 mm yr−1 for the 0–2000 m layer and 0.41 ± .04 mm yr−1 for the 0–700 m layer of the World Ocean for 1955–2010.

    World ocean heat content and thermosteric sea level change (0–2000 m), 1955–2010 – Levitus et al 2012

    Full version

    —————————————————————

    One approach to reconstructing historical sealevel from the relatively sparse tide-gauge network is to employ Empirical Orthogonal Functions (EOFs) as interpolatory spatial basis functions. The EOFs are determined from independent global data, generally sea-surface heights from either satellite altimetry or a numerical ocean model. The problem is revisited here for sealevel since 1900. A new approach to handling the tide-gauge datum problem by direct solution offers possible advantages over the method of integrating sea-level differences, with the potential of eventually adjusting datums into the global terrestrial reference frame. The resulting time series of global mean sealevels appears fairly insensitive to the adopted set of EOFs. In contrast, charts of regional sealevel anomalies and trends are very sensitive to the adopted set of EOFs, especially for the sparser network of gauges in the early 20th century. The reconstructions appear especially suspect before 1950 in the tropical Pacific. While this limits some applications of the sea-level reconstructions, the sensitivity does appear adequately captured by formal uncertainties. All our solutions show regional trends over the past five decades to be fairly uniform throughout the global ocean, in contrast to trends observed over the shorter altimeter era. Consistent with several previous estimates, the globalsea-level rise since 1900 is 1.70 ± 0.26 mm yr−1. The global trend since 1995 exceeds 3 mm yr−1 which is consistent with altimeter measurements, but this large trend was possibly also reached between 1935 and 1950.

    Experiments in reconstructing twentieth-century sea levels – Ray & Douglas 2011

    (No full version as yet)

    —————————————————————–

    We estimate the rise in global average sea level from satellite altimeter data for 1993–2009 and from coastal and island sea-level measurements from 1880 to 2009. For 1993–2009 and after correcting for glacial isostatic adjustment, the estimated rate of rise is 3.2 ± 0.4 mm year−1 from the satellite data and 2.8 ± 0.8 mm year−1 from the in situ data. The global average sea-level rise from 1880 to 2009 is about 210 mm. The linear trend from 1900 to 2009 is 1.7 ± 0.2 mm year−1 and since 1961 is 1.9 ± 0.4 mm year−1. There is considerable variability in the rate of rise during the twentieth century but there has been a statistically significant acceleration since 1880 and 1900 of 0.009 ± 0.003 mm year−2 and 0.009 ± 0.004 mm year−2, respectively. Since the start of the altimeter record in 1993, global average sea level rose at a rate near the upper end of the sea level projections of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Third and Fourth Assessment Reports. However, the reconstruction indicates there was little net change in sea level from 1990 to 1993, most likely as a result of the volcanic eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991.

    Sea-Level Rise from the Late 19th to the Early 21st Century – Church & White 2011

    Full version

  20. barry said

    We review the sea-level and energy budgets together from 1961, using recent and updated estimates of all terms. From 1972 to 2008, the observed sea-level rise (1.8 ± 0.2 mm yr−1 from tide gauges alone and 2.1 ± 0.2 mm yr−1 from a combination of tide gauges and altimeter observations) agrees well with the sum of contributions (1.8 ± 0.4 mm yr−1) in magnitude and with both having similar increases in the rate of rise during the period. The largest contributions come from ocean thermal expansion (0.8 mm yr−1) and the melting of glaciers and ice caps (0.7 mm yr−1), with Greenland and Antarctica contributing about 0.4 mm yr−1. The cryospheric contributions increase through the period (particularly in the 1990s) but the thermosteric contribution increases less rapidly. We include an improved estimate of aquifer depletion (0.3 mm yr−1), partially offsetting the retention of water in dams and giving a total terrestrial storage contribution of −0.1 mm yr−1. Ocean warming (90% of the total of the Earth’s energy increase) continues through to the end of the record, in agreement with continued greenhouse gas forcing. The aerosol forcing, inferred as a residual in the atmospheric energy balance, is estimated as −0.8 ± 0.4 W m−2 for the 1980s and early 1990s. It increases in the late 1990s, as is required for consistency with little surface warming over the last decade. This increase is likely at least partially related to substantial increases in aerosol emissions from developing nations and moderate volcanic activity.

    Revisiting the Earth's sea-level and energy budgets from 1961 to 2008 – Church, J. A., N. J. White, L. F. Konikow, C. M. Domingues, J. G. Cogley, E. Rignot, J. M. Gregory, M. R. van den Broeke, A. J. Monaghan, and I. Velicogna (2011)

    Full version

    A lot of heavy hitters in that author list – no “et al” for this bunch!

  21. Ari Jokimäki said

    I added the full text links and Jevrejeva et al. (2006), Ray & Douglas (2011), Church & White (2011), and Church et al. (2011). I added a mention that also ocean temperature list is relevant, and added Levitus et al. there. Thanks, Barry!🙂

    On full text links, I usually go for the most official link, i.e. first from the journal website if it’s open access (Chuch & Withe, 2011, in your list was this sort of paper) and then from author webpage, then from university websites, and then from other places.

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