Document Type


Publication Date




Publication Title

Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans








Several existing statistical and dynamical reconstructions of past regional sea level variability and trends are compared with each other and with tide gauges over the 48 year period 1960-2007, partially predating the satellite altimetry era. Evaluated statistical reconstructions were built from tide-gauge data (TGR), and dynamical reconstructions from ocean data assimilation (ODA) approaches. Although most of the TGRs yield global-mean time series of sea level with trends deviating within ± 0.1 mm yr-1, the spatial anomalies of the trends deviate substantially between the reconstructions over the period predating altimetry. In contrast, TGRs match observed regional trend patterns fairly well during the satellite altimetry era. TGRs match tide-gauge data better than ODA results; however, they exhibit less variability in the open ocean compared to altimetric data. Over the prealtimetry period, all reconstructed regional sea level trend patterns deviate substantially from each other. In terms of detrended correlations in this earlier period, the reconstructions match tide gauges, and each other, much better in the Pacific than in the Atlantic. An ensemble of all TGR and ODA estimates provides some improvements in correlations and trends to both tide gauges and altimetry. Nevertheless, a lack of independent open ocean sea surface height data predating altimetry makes impossible the validation of the ensemble for prealtimetry open ocean sea level trends and variability. Estimating regional sea level changes prior to altimetry therefore remains an unsolved challenge.

Original Publication Citation

Carson, M., Kohl, A., Stammer, D., Meyssignac, B., Church, J., Schroter, J., . . . Hamlington, B. (2017). Regional sea level variability and trends, 1960-2007: A comparison of sea level reconstructions and ocean syntheses. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 122(11), 9068-9091. doi:10.1002/2017jc012992


0000-0002-2315-6425 (Hamlington)