Is the Altimeter-Era Acceleration of Global Mean Sea Level Rise Being Masked by the 1991 Eruption of Mt. Pinatubo?
Event: 2015 Ocean Surface Topography Science Team Meeting
Session: Science I: Mean sea level monitoring: how to reconcile altimetry, tide gauges, land motion and other in situ observations?
Presentation type: Type Oral
Recent variability in global mean sea level rise is examined using the NCAR CESM1-CAM5 Large Ensemble, with an emphasis on identifying and distinguishing between its forced and internal components. The residual influence of the 1991 eruption of Mt Pinatubo is identified as a major source of inter-decadal variability during the altimeter era, an influence manifested by anomalous increases in ocean heat content following the forced minimum in 1993. On its own, OHC recovery explains an additional 5 mm of sea level rise during the era’s first decade and is sufficient to fully explain reported inter-decadal variations. The magnitude of terrestrial water storage variability, both associated with the eruption and with also with internal modes of variability (e.g. PDO), is also quantified and its influence on GMSL is found to be small relative to OHC contributions.