Extrapolating Satellite Data Records for Short-Term Sea Level Projections
Event: 2019 Ocean Surface Topography Science Team Meeting
Session: Science I: Climate data records for understanding the causes of global and regional sea level variability and change
Presentation type: Type Oral
The satellite altimeter record has provided an unprecedented climate data record for understanding sea level rise and has recently reached a major milestone at 26 years in length. This record of sea level change is becoming sufficiently long that we can begin to infer how sea level will change in the future. Observations of the rate and acceleration of global mean sea level change from satellite altimetry have become sufficiently well determined that we can do simple extrapolations under the (big) assumption that the rate and acceleration remain constant over the time period of the extrapolation. Also, there is evidence that the observed pattern of regional sea level change is being driven by the forced climate response and that these trends will continue into the future. Therefore, the observed regional trends from satellite altimetry can be used to inform the patterns of future regional variations. Finally, the GRACE mass change record, while comparatively short, can be used to extrapolate future mass loss from the ice sheets, which can also be used to compute the gravitational fingerprints and get the regional sea level variations. Taken together, we can put this into a framework to extrapolate regional sea level change 20-30 years into the future. We will discuss this framework and show some initial results. Considerable uncertainties exist and these will be addressed.