NTRS - NASA Technical Reports Server

Back to Results
Sea level variationPublished values for the long-term, global mean sea level rise determined from tide gauge records range from about one to three mm per year. The scatter of the estimates appears to arise largely from the use of data from gauges located at convergent tectonic plate boundaries where changes of land elevation give fictitious sea level trends, and the effects of large interdecadal and longer sea level variations on short (less than 50+ years) or sappy records. In addition, virtually all gauges undergo subsidence or uplift due to isostatic rebound from the last deglaciation at a rate comparable to or greater than the secular rise of sea level. Modeling rebound by the ICE-3G model of Tushingham and Peltier (1990) and avoiding tide gauge records in areas of converging tectonic plates produces a highly consistent set of long sea level records. A global set of 21 such stations in nine oceanic regions with an average record length of 76 years during the period 1880-1980 yields the global sea level rise value 1.8 mm/year +/- 0.1. Greenhouse warming scenarios commonly forecast an additional acceleration of global sea level in the next 5 or 6+ decades in the range 0.1-0.2 mm/yr2. Because of the large power at low frequencies in the sea level spectrum, very long tide gauge records (75 years minimum) have been examined for past apparent sea level acceleration. For the 80-year period 1905-1985, 23 essentially complete tide gauge records in 10 geographic groups are available for analysis. These yielded the apparent global acceleration -0.011 (+/- 0.012) mm/yr2. A larger, less uniform set of 37 records in the same 10 groups with 92 years average length covering the 141 years from 1850-1991 gave 0.001 (+/- 0.008) 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. Unfortunately, the large interdecadal fluctuations of sea level severely affect estimates of global sea level acceleration for time spans of less than about 50 years. This means that tide gauges alone cannot serve as a reliable leading indicator of climate change in less than many decades. This time required can be significantly reduced if the interdecadal fluctuations of sea level can be understood in terms of their forcing mechanisms, and then removed from the tide gauge records.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Douglas, Bruce C. (National Ocean Service Rockville, MD, United States)
Date Acquired
September 6, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 1992
Publication Information
Publication: NASA. Goddard Space Flight Center, Proceedings of the Ocean Climate Data Workshop
Subject Category
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

Related Records

IDRelationTitle19930015726Analytic PrimaryProceedings of the Ocean Climate Data Workshop