skip to main content
DOE PAGES title logo U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Scientific and Technical Information

Title: Is the detection of accelerated sea level rise imminent?

Abstract

Global mean sea level rise estimated from satellite altimetry provides a strong constraint on climate variability and change and is expected to accelerate as the rates of both ocean warming and cryospheric mass loss increase over time. In stark contrast to this expectation however, current altimeter products show the rate of sea level rise to have decreased from the first to second decades of the altimeter era. Here, a combined analysis of altimeter data and specially designed climate model simulations shows the 1991 eruption of Mt Pinatubo to likely have masked the acceleration that would have otherwise occurred. This masking arose largely from a recovery in ocean heat content through the mid to late 1990 s subsequent to major heat content reductions in the years following the eruption. As a result, a consequence of this finding is that barring another major volcanic eruption, a detectable acceleration is likely to emerge from the noise of internal climate variability in the coming decade.

Authors:
 [1];  [2];  [3]
  1. National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO (United States); Univ. of Colorado, Boulder, CO (United States)
  2. Univ. of Colorado, Boulder, CO (United States)
  3. Old Dominion Univ., Norfolk, VA (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Univ. Corp. for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO (United States); Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Science (SC)
OSTI Identifier:
1363911
Grant/Contract Number:  
SC0012711; AC02-05CH11231
Resource Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Scientific Reports
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 6; Journal Issue: 1; Journal ID: ISSN 2045-2322
Publisher:
Nature Publishing Group
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; climate and Earth system modelling; projection and prediction

Citation Formats

Fasullo, J. T., Nerem, R. S., and Hamlington, B. Is the detection of accelerated sea level rise imminent?. United States: N. p., 2016. Web. doi:10.1038/srep31245.
Fasullo, J. T., Nerem, R. S., & Hamlington, B. Is the detection of accelerated sea level rise imminent?. United States. doi:10.1038/srep31245.
Fasullo, J. T., Nerem, R. S., and Hamlington, B. Wed . "Is the detection of accelerated sea level rise imminent?". United States. doi:10.1038/srep31245. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1363911.
@article{osti_1363911,
title = {Is the detection of accelerated sea level rise imminent?},
author = {Fasullo, J. T. and Nerem, R. S. and Hamlington, B.},
abstractNote = {Global mean sea level rise estimated from satellite altimetry provides a strong constraint on climate variability and change and is expected to accelerate as the rates of both ocean warming and cryospheric mass loss increase over time. In stark contrast to this expectation however, current altimeter products show the rate of sea level rise to have decreased from the first to second decades of the altimeter era. Here, a combined analysis of altimeter data and specially designed climate model simulations shows the 1991 eruption of Mt Pinatubo to likely have masked the acceleration that would have otherwise occurred. This masking arose largely from a recovery in ocean heat content through the mid to late 1990 s subsequent to major heat content reductions in the years following the eruption. As a result, a consequence of this finding is that barring another major volcanic eruption, a detectable acceleration is likely to emerge from the noise of internal climate variability in the coming decade.},
doi = {10.1038/srep31245},
journal = {Scientific Reports},
number = 1,
volume = 6,
place = {United States},
year = {2016},
month = {8}
}

Journal Article:
Free Publicly Available Full Text
Publisher's Version of Record

Citation Metrics:
Cited by: 7 works
Citation information provided by
Web of Science

Save / Share:

Works referenced in this record:

Estimating Mean Sea Level Change from the TOPEX and Jason Altimeter Missions
journal, August 2010


Australia's unique influence on global sea level in 2010-2011: AUSTRALIA'S INFLUENCE ON 2011 SEA LEVEL
journal, August 2013

  • Fasullo, John T.; Boening, Carmen; Landerer, Felix W.
  • Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 40, Issue 16
  • DOI: 10.1002/grl.50834

Ice-sheet mass balance and climate change
journal, June 2013

  • Hanna, Edward; Navarro, Francisco J.; Pattyn, Frank
  • Nature, Vol. 498, Issue 7452
  • DOI: 10.1038/nature12238

A Reconciled Estimate of Ice-Sheet Mass Balance
journal, November 2012


Timescales for detecting a significant acceleration in sea level rise
journal, April 2014

  • Haigh, Ivan D.; Wahl, Thomas; Rohling, Eelco J.
  • Nature Communications, Vol. 5, Issue 1
  • DOI: 10.1038/ncomms4635

An apparent hiatus in global warming?
journal, December 2013


The rate of sea-level rise
journal, March 2014

  • Cazenave, Anny; Dieng, Habib-Boubacar; Meyssignac, Benoit
  • Nature Climate Change, Vol. 4, Issue 5
  • DOI: 10.1038/nclimate2159

Unabated global mean sea-level rise over the satellite altimeter era
journal, May 2015

  • Watson, Christopher S.; White, Neil J.; Church, John A.
  • Nature Climate Change, Vol. 5, Issue 6
  • DOI: 10.1038/nclimate2635

Global sea level rise
journal, January 1991

  • Douglas, Bruce C.
  • Journal of Geophysical Research, Vol. 96, Issue C4
  • DOI: 10.1029/91JC00064

Sea-Level Rise from the Late 19th to the Early 21st Century
journal, March 2011


Recent global sea level acceleration started over 200 years ago?
journal, January 2008

  • Jevrejeva, S.; Moore, J. C.; Grinsted, A.
  • Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 35, Issue 8
  • DOI: 10.1029/2008GL033611

Experiments in reconstructing twentieth-century sea levels
journal, December 2011


Probabilistic reanalysis of twentieth-century sea-level rise
journal, January 2015

  • Hay, Carling C.; Morrow, Eric; Kopp, Robert E.
  • Nature, Vol. 517, Issue 7535
  • DOI: 10.1038/nature14093

Radiative Climate Forcing by the Mount Pinatubo Eruption
journal, March 1993


Atmospheric effects of the Mt Pinatubo eruption
journal, February 1995

  • McCormick, M. Patrick; Thomason, Larry W.; Trepte, Charles R.
  • Nature, Vol. 373, Issue 6513
  • DOI: 10.1038/373399a0

Significant decadal-scale impact of volcanic eruptions on sea level and ocean heat content
journal, November 2005

  • Church, John A.; White, Neil J.; Arblaster, Julie M.
  • Nature, Vol. 438, Issue 7064
  • DOI: 10.1038/nature04237

Krakatoa lives: The effect of volcanic eruptions on ocean heat content and thermal expansion
journal, January 2006

  • Gleckler, P. J.; AchutaRao, K.; Gregory, J. M.
  • Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 33, Issue 17
  • DOI: 10.1029/2006GL026771

Simulated Global-Mean Sea Level Changes over the Last Half-Millennium
journal, September 2006

  • Gregory, J. M.; Lowe, J. A.; Tett, S. F. B.
  • Journal of Climate, Vol. 19, Issue 18
  • DOI: 10.1175/JCLI3881.1

Detection and attribution of global mean thermosteric sea level change
journal, August 2014

  • Slangen, Aimée B. A.; Church, John A.; Zhang, Xuebin
  • Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 41, Issue 16
  • DOI: 10.1002/2014GL061356

The Sea Level Response to External Forcings in Historical Simulations of CMIP5 Climate Models
journal, November 2015

  • Slangen, Aimée B. A.; Church, John A.; Zhang, Xuebin
  • Journal of Climate, Vol. 28, Issue 21
  • DOI: 10.1175/JCLI-D-15-0376.1

Are GRACE-era Terrestrial Water Trends Driven by Anthropogenic Climate Change?
journal, January 2016

  • Fasullo, J. T.; Lawrence, D. M.; Swenson, S. C.
  • Advances in Meteorology, Vol. 2016
  • DOI: 10.1155/2016/4830603

Argo - A Decade of Progress
conference, December 2010

  • Freeland, Howard J.; Freeland, Howard J.; Freeland, Howard J.
  • Proceedings of OceanObs'09: Sustained Ocean Observations and Information for Society
  • DOI: 10.5270/OceanObs09.cwp.32

GRACE Measurements of Mass Variability in the Earth System
journal, July 2004


Effects of Mount Pinatubo volcanic eruption on the hydrological cycle as an analog of geoengineering: PINATUBO AND THE HYDROLOGICAL CYCLE
journal, August 2007

  • Trenberth, Kevin E.; Dai, Aiguo
  • Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 34, Issue 15
  • DOI: 10.1029/2007GL030524

A review of global ocean temperature observations: Implications for ocean heat content estimates and climate change: REVIEW OF OCEAN OBSERVATIONS
journal, September 2013

  • Abraham, J. P.; Baringer, M.; Bindoff, N. L.
  • Reviews of Geophysics, Vol. 51, Issue 3
  • DOI: 10.1002/rog.20022

Variations in global mean sea level associated with the 1997-1998 ENSO event: Implications for measuring long term sea level change
journal, October 1999

  • Nerem, R. S.; Chambers, D. P.; Leuliette, E. W.
  • Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 26, Issue 19
  • DOI: 10.1029/1999GL002311

The Community Earth System Model (CESM) Large Ensemble Project: A Community Resource for Studying Climate Change in the Presence of Internal Climate Variability
journal, August 2015

  • Kay, J. E.; Deser, C.; Phillips, A.
  • Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Vol. 96, Issue 8
  • DOI: 10.1175/BAMS-D-13-00255.1

Historical (1850–2000) gridded anthropogenic and biomass burning emissions of reactive gases and aerosols: methodology and application
journal, January 2010


Global and regional evolution of short-lived radiatively-active gases and aerosols in the Representative Concentration Pathways
journal, August 2011

  • Lamarque, Jean-François; Kyle, G. Page; Meinshausen, Malte
  • Climatic Change, Vol. 109, Issue 1-2
  • DOI: 10.1007/s10584-011-0155-0

The CCSM4 Land Simulation, 1850–2005: Assessment of Surface Climate and New Capabilities
journal, April 2012


Revisiting the Earth's sea-level and energy budgets from 1961 to 2008: SEA-LEVEL AND ENERGY BUDGETS
journal, September 2011

  • Church, John A.; White, Neil J.; Konikow, Leonard F.
  • Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 38, Issue 18
  • DOI: 10.1029/2011GL048794

    Works referencing / citing this record:

    Global probabilistic projections of extreme sea levels show intensification of coastal flood hazard
    journal, June 2018

    • Vousdoukas, Michalis I.; Mentaschi, Lorenzo; Voukouvalas, Evangelos
    • Nature Communications, Vol. 9, Issue 1
    • DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-04692-w

    The increasing rate of global mean sea-level rise during 1993–2014
    journal, June 2017

    • Chen, Xianyao; Zhang, Xuebin; Church, John A.
    • Nature Climate Change, Vol. 7, Issue 7
    • DOI: 10.1038/nclimate3325

    Improved estimates of ocean heat content from 1960 to 2015
    journal, March 2017

    • Cheng, Lijing; Trenberth, Kevin E.; Fasullo, John
    • Science Advances, Vol. 3, Issue 3
    • DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1601545

    Orbit-related sea level errors for TOPEX altimetry at seasonal to decadal timescales
    journal, January 2018

    • Esselborn, Saskia; Rudenko, Sergei; Schöne, Tilo
    • Ocean Science, Vol. 14, Issue 2
    • DOI: 10.5194/os-14-205-2018

    New estimate of the current rate of sea level rise from a sea level budget approach: SEA LEVEL BUDGET
    journal, April 2017

    • Dieng, H. B.; Cazenave, A.; Meyssignac, B.
    • Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 44, Issue 8
    • DOI: 10.1002/2017gl073308

    Decadal Ocean Heat Redistribution Since the Late 1990s and Its Association with Key Climate Modes
    journal, November 2018

    • Cheng, Lijing; Wang, Gongjie; Abraham, John
    • Climate, Vol. 6, Issue 4
    • DOI: 10.3390/cli6040091

    New estimate of the current rate of sea level rise from a sea level budget approach: SEA LEVEL BUDGET
    journal, April 2017

    • Dieng, H. B.; Cazenave, A.; Meyssignac, B.
    • Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 44, Issue 8
    • DOI: 10.1002/2017gl073308

    The increasing rate of global mean sea-level rise during 1993–2014
    journal, June 2017

    • Chen, Xianyao; Zhang, Xuebin; Church, John A.
    • Nature Climate Change, Vol. 7, Issue 7
    • DOI: 10.1038/nclimate3325

    Global probabilistic projections of extreme sea levels show intensification of coastal flood hazard
    journal, June 2018

    • Vousdoukas, Michalis I.; Mentaschi, Lorenzo; Voukouvalas, Evangelos
    • Nature Communications, Vol. 9, Issue 1
    • DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-04692-w

    Improved estimates of ocean heat content from 1960 to 2015
    journal, March 2017

    • Cheng, Lijing; Trenberth, Kevin E.; Fasullo, John
    • Science Advances, Vol. 3, Issue 3
    • DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1601545

    Decadal Ocean Heat Redistribution Since the Late 1990s and Its Association with Key Climate Modes
    journal, November 2018

    • Cheng, Lijing; Wang, Gongjie; Abraham, John
    • Climate, Vol. 6, Issue 4
    • DOI: 10.3390/cli6040091

    Orbit-related sea level errors for TOPEX altimetry at seasonal to decadal timescales
    journal, January 2018

    • Esselborn, Saskia; Rudenko, Sergei; Schöne, Tilo
    • Ocean Science, Vol. 14, Issue 2
    • DOI: 10.5194/os-14-205-2018