The Mediterranean and Black Seas: Analysis of Large Sea Level Anomalies
- (University of Miami, RSMAS)
Satellite altimetry observations by OSTM/Jason-2 and Envisat missions have revealed extremely large sea level fluctuations that occurred in the Mediterranean and Black seas in the winters of 2010 and 2011. During this time the basin-wide non-seasonal sea level in the Mediterranean Sea increased by about 10 cm reaching the record maximum during the observational period. Similar anomalies were observed in bottom pressure derived from the gravity field measurements by the NASA's GRACE twin satellites. In the Black Sea, the associated sea level anomalies exceeded 20 cm lagging behind the sea level anomalies in the Mediterranean Sea by about 1 month. Understanding and quantifying the dynamics of sea level variations in these semi-enclosed seas is important because of the possible amplified sea level response to climate forcings, and because of the densly populated coasts in the region. Sea level is a natural integral indicator of climate variability and its present-day rate of rise is one of the most damaging and costly consequences of global change.
With the proposed research, we intend to achieve the following objectives:
The proposed research will focus on time scales from months to interannual variability, and use observational data as well as models: delayed and real-time along-track and gridded satellite altimetry data, GRACE measurements, tide gauge records, in situ hydrography, river runoff, atmospheric reanalysis and ocean data synthesis products, and numerical simulations.
To achieve the aforementioned objectives, the following tasks will be accomplished:
We expect that the proposed research will provide robust observational and model-based estimates for the factors responsible for the sea level variability in the Mediterranean and Black seas, including the observed extreme sea level events in 2010 and 2011. By establishing relationships between the changes of sea level in the Mediterranean and Black seas, and the large-scale climate forcing, the results based on contemporary observations can be used to assess the sensitivity of sea level variations in this region under future climate conditions. The proposed research directly addresses the objectives of five (out of eight) research themes of the OSTST by