Articles | Volume 5, issue 1
Earth Syst. Dynam., 5, 243–255, 2014
Earth Syst. Dynam., 5, 243–255, 2014

Research article 26 Jun 2014

Research article | 26 Jun 2014

Comparing tide gauge observations to regional patterns of sea-level change (1961–2003)

A. B. A. Slangen1,*, R. S. W. van de Wal1, Y. Wada2, and L. L. A. Vermeersen3,4 A. B. A. Slangen et al.
  • 1Institute for Marine and Atmospheric research Utrecht (IMAU), Utrecht University, Princetonplein 5, 3584 CC Utrecht, the Netherlands
  • 2Department of Physical Geography, Utrecht University, Heidelberglaan 2, 3584 CS Utrecht, the Netherlands
  • 3Delft Climate Institute, Faculty of Aerospace Engineering, TU Delft, Kluyverweg 1, 2629 HS Delft, the Netherlands
  • 4Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ), Landsdiep 4, 1797 SZ 't Horntje, the Netherlands
  • *now at: CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere flagship, Castray Esplanade, Hobart, TAS 7001, Australia

Abstract. Although the global mean sea-level budget for the 20th century can now be closed, the understanding of sea-level change on a regional scale is still limited. In this study we compare observations from tide gauges to regional patterns from various contributions to sea-level change to see how much of the regional measurements can be explained. Processes that are included are land ice mass changes and terrestrial storage changes with associated gravitational, rotational and deformational effects, steric/dynamic changes, atmospheric pressure loading and glacial isostatic adjustment (GIA). The study focuses on the mean linear trend of regional sea-level rise between 1961 and 2003. It is found that on a regional level the explained variance of the observed trend is 0.87 with a regression coefficient of 1.07. The observations and models overlap within the 1σ uncertainty range in all regions. The main processes explaining the variability in the observations appear to be the steric/dynamic component and the GIA. Local observations prove to be more difficult to explain because they show larger spatial variations, and therefore require more information on small-scale processes.

Final-revised paper