Demystifying the Dynamics of Global and Regional Sea Level Trends from 1993 to 2021

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Ashraf Rateb , Bridget R. Scanlon


As global sea levels rise, questions persist about the robustness of trends and their dynamics. Here, we offer a fresh perspective by examining the dynamics of global and regional mean sea-level trends using a probabilistic framework applied to the altimetric record. We show that the global mean sea-level (GMSL) rise accelerated from 2.5 mm/yr (1993-2000) to 4.2 mm/yr (2014-2021) with an average plausibility (85%) over the entire 29-year record. El-Niño Southern Oscillation modulates GMSL, with ~9% increase (decrease) in magnitude during El-Niño (La-Niña) events. Furthermore, our analysis identifies six regions (e.g., Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, Tropics, Southern Oceans and North Sea) with high probability of upward stable trends that persisted beyond interannual and decadal natural variability of arbitrary 29-year window, —suggesting a substantial contribution from external factors (e.g., climate change). By treating sea level trends as random processes and employing non-parametric probabilistic methods (e.g., Gaussian process regression) we obtain reliable estimates that account for trends complex patterns and inherent uncertainties, ultimately enhancing attribution processes and facilitating effective communication of sea level trend changes.



Applied Statistics, Earth Sciences, Physical Sciences and Mathematics, Statistical Models


Sea level rise, Gaussian procsses, Bayesian, altimetry


Published: 2023-07-07 01:53


CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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Conflict of interest statement:
There is no conflict of interest

Data Availability (Reason not available):
This study used public data. Altimetry data can be accessed through (NOAA / NESDIS / STAR - Laboratory for Satellite Altimetry (LSA)). Monthly data of the climate variability indices can be accessed from (Climate Indices: Monthly Atmospheric and Ocean Time Series: NOAA Physical Sciences Laboratory). Access to gridded altimetry data is provided through (MEaSUREs Gridded Sea Surface Height Anomalies Version 2205 | PO.DAAC ( Replicated results are archived in (