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Large-scale decadal changes of sea level in various parts of the world ocean

Tong Lee(1) and Ichiro Fukumori(1)

(1) Jet Propulsion Laboratory, MS 300-323, Pasadena, California, 91011, United States


The time covered by sea surface height (SSH) measurements derived from the TOPEX/Poseidon and JASON-1 altimeters allows a glimpse of decadal variability superimposed on longer-term changes. Many large-scale changes are found in various parts of the world ocean on these time scales. One conspicuous example is the rising SSH in the western tropical Pacific and southeastern Indian Ocean. This increase of SSH is observed for the period of 1992 to 2000. After 2000, the SSH in the region stabilizes and even begins to drop in recent years. A similar feature is seen from the SSH at mid-latitude southwestern Pacific (around New Zealand). These features suggest the influences by decadal oscillations such as the PDO that leaves a large footprint in the Indo-Pacific region. In the Atlantic Ocean, the SSH in the Gulf Stream extension and North Atlantic Current regions display a general decreasing trend while that that at mid-latitude southwestern Atlantic rises consistenyl. The ECCO assimilation products capture many of these observed changes. These products are used along with model sensitivity experiments to diagnose the forcing mechanism of the decadal SSH changes (e.g., wind versus buoyancy forcing, local versus remote forcing) and the implications to ocean circulation (e.g., horizontal gyre and meridional overturning).


Workshop presentation


                 Last modified: 07.10.03