Location of Repository

Terrestrial waters and sea level variations on interannual time scale

By W. Llovel, M. Becker, A. Cazenave, S. Jevrejeva, R. Alkama, B. Decharme, H. Douville, M. Ablain and B. Beckley


On decadal to multidecadal time scales, thermal expansion of sea waters and land ice loss are the main contributors to sea level variations. However, modification of the terrestrial water cycle due to climate variability and direct anthropogenic forcing may also affect sea level. For the past decades, variations in land water storage and corresponding effects on sea level cannot be directly estimated from observations because these are almost unexistent at global continental scale. However, global hydrological models developed for atmospheric and climatic studies can be used for estimating total water storage. For the recent years (since mid-2002), terrestrial water storage change can be directly estimated from observations of the GRACE space gravimetry mission. In this study, we analyse the interannual variability of total land water storage, and investigate its contribution to mean sea level variability at interannual time scale. We consider three different periods that, each, depend on data availability: (1) GRACE era (2003-2009), (2) 1993-2003 and (3) 1955-1995. For the GRACE era (period 1), change in land water storage is estimated using different GRACE products over the 33 largest river basins worldwide. For periods 2 and 3, we use outputs from the ISBA-TRIP (Interactions between Soil, Biosphere, and Atmosphere Total Runoff Integrating Pathways) global hydrological model. For each time span, we compare change in land water storage (expressed in sea level equivalent) to observed mean sea level, either from satellite altimetry (periods 1 and 2) or tide gauge records (period 3). For each data set and each time span, a trend has been removed as we focus on the interannual variability. We show that whatever the period considered, interannual variability of the mean sea level is essentially explained by interannual fluctuations in land water storage, with the largest contributions arising from tropical river basin

Topics: Marine Sciences
Publisher: Elsevier
Year: 2011
DOI identifier: 10.1016/j.gloplacha.2010.10.008
OAI identifier: oai:nora.nerc.ac.uk:14224

Suggested articles



  1. (2009). A new assessment of global mean sea level from altimeters highlights a reduction of global slope from
  2. (1995). A new snow parameterization for the Météo-France climate model. Part 1: validation in stand-alone experiments.
  3. (1989). A simple parameterization of land surface processes for meteorological models.
  4. (2005). Analyses of the contribution of continental water to sea level variations during the 1997–1998 ENSO event; comparison between the AMIP simulations and the Topex/Poseidon satellite data.
  5. (1999). Annual cycle in mean sea level from Topex-Poseidon and ERS-1: inferences on the global hydrological cycle.
  6. (1995). Anthropogenic impact on global geodynamics due to reservoir water impoundment.
  7. Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergouvernmental Panel on Climate Change.
  8. (2010). CNES/GRGS 10-day gravity field models (release 2) and their evaluation.
  9. (2010). Contemporary sea level rise.
  10. (2003). Contribution of climate-driven change in continental water storage to recent sea-level rise.
  11. (2010). Contribution of land water storage change to global mean sea level from GRACE and satellite altimetry.
  12. contributions from GRACE to sea level rise over 2002–2006.
  13. (1998). Design of Total Runoff Integrating Pathways (TRIP)— a global river channel network.
  14. (2005). Effects of land water storage on global mean sea level ofer the past 50 years.
  15. (2010). Estimating mean sea level change from the TOPEX and Jason altimeter missions.
  16. (2006). Evaluation of new GRACE time-variable gravity data over the ocean.
  17. (2010). Global depletion of groundwater resources. doi
  18. (2010). Global evaluation of the ISBA-TRIP continental hydrological system. Part 1: comparison to GRACE terrestrial water storage estimates and in-situ river discharges.
  19. (2001). Global glacial isostatic adjustment andmodern instrumental records of relative sea level history.
  20. (2000). Global physical effects of anthropogenic hydrological alterations: sea level and water redistribution. doi
  21. (2006). Impact of an exponential profile of saturated hydraulic conductivity within the ISBA LSM: simulations over the Rhône Basin.
  22. (2001). Impoundment, groundwater mining, and other hydrologic transformations: impacts on global sea level rise.
  23. (1999). Inclusion of a third soil layer in a land-surface scheme using the force-restore method.
  24. (2007). Inference of mantle viscosity from GRACE and relative sea level data.
  25. (2006). Introduction of a sub-grid hydrology in the ISBA land surface model.
  26. (2009). Is coastal mean sea level rising faster than the global mean? A comparison between tide gauges and satellite altimetry over 1993– 7W. Llovel et al. / Global and Planetary Change xxx (2010) xxx–xxxglobal sea level.
  27. (2006). Nonlinear trends and multiyear cycles in sea level records.
  28. (2009). On the use of satellite altimeter data in Argo quality control.
  29. (2010). Regional and interannual variability in sea level over 2002–2009 based on satellite altimetry, Argo float data and GRACE ocean mass.
  30. (2010). Robust warming of the global upper ocean.
  31. (2009). Sea level variations,
  32. (1998). Seasonal global water mass budget and mean sea level variations.
  33. (2010). Terrestrial water storage contributions to sea level rise and variability.
  34. (2005). The mass of the atmosphere: a constraint on global analyses. doi
  35. (2003). The permanent service for mean sea level: an update to the 21st century.
  36. (1987). The Southern Oscillation in surface circulation and climate over the tropical Atlantic, Eastern Pacific, and Indian Oceans as captured by cluster analysis. doi
  37. (1997). The storage and aging of continental runoff in large reservoir systems of the world.
  38. (2004). Time-variable gravity from GRACE: first results. doi

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.