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Ocean Surface Topography from Space
Sea Level Change: Current and Future Challenges


Benoît Meyssignac - (LEGOS)

Co-Principal Investigator
  Anny Cazenave

  Alejandro Blazquez

  Michael Ablain
Sara Padilla
Hindumathi Palanisamy
Angelique Melet
William Llovel
Goneri Le Cozannet
Thierry Penduff
Detlef Stammer
Karina vonShickmann
Rafael Almar
(Jet Propulsion Laboratory)
(Universität Hamburg)

Sea Level Change: Current and Future Challenges
Observed sea level from satellite altimetry over 1993-2015 (black solid curve). Thermal expansion (green curve; mean value based on temperature data from Levitus et al., 2009; Ishii and Kimoto, 2009). Contribution from Greenland and Antarctica (cyan and blue curves) and glaciers (green curve). The red curve represents the total climatic contribution (sum of thermal expansion and land ice).
Objectives of the present proposal: address unsolved questions regarding contemporary sea level rise

In this proposal, we intend to address a number of key questions related to present-day sea level changes, that still need investigation:

  • Is the altimetry-based sea level record accurate and stable enough for climate studies? Can we still improve it?
  •  Can we estimate from budget approaches, unknown or poorly known contributions to sea level (e.g., deep ocean warming, net land water storage) as well as the Glacial Isostatic Adjustment –GIA- contribution to GRACE-based ocean mass and Antarctica ice sheet mass balance?
  • Can sea level observations help constraining the global water and energy cycles?
  •  Can we explain regional sea level variations in all ocean regions (e.g., Arctic, southern oceans)?
  •  Can we use sea level data (from altimetry and past sea level reconstructions) to validate climate models used for projections of future changes?
  •  Is sea level at the coast rising at the same rate as open ocean sea level?

To answer these questions, we will use a large number of data sets, including altimetry-based data sets, as well as other data sets for the contributions to sea level variations, and model results for comparisons. We will focus on the altimetry era (1993-present), with specific analyses performed during the GRACE and Argo periods (as of 2002/2003).

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