Journal of Oceanography

, Volume 62, Issue 2, pp 155–170

Steric sea level changes estimated from historical ocean subsurface temperature and salinity analyses


    • Frontier Research Center for Global ChangeJapan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology
  • Masahide Kimoto
    • Center for Climate System ResearchUniversity of Tokyo
  • Kenji Sakamoto
    • Climate Prediction DivisionJapan Meteorological Agency
  • Sin-Iti Iwasaki
    • National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Prevention

DOI: 10.1007/s10872-006-0041-y

Cite this article as:
Ishii, M., Kimoto, M., Sakamoto, K. et al. J Oceanogr (2006) 62: 155. doi:10.1007/s10872-006-0041-y


An historical objective analysis of subsurface temperature and salinity was carried out on a monthly basis from 1945 to 2003 using the latest observational databases and a sea surface temperature analysis. In addition, steric sea level changes were mainly examined using outputs of the objective analyses. The objective analysis is a revised version of Ishii et al. and is available at 16 levels in the upper 700 m depth. Artificial errors in the previous analysis during the 1990s have been worked out in the present analysis. The steric sea level computed from the temperature analysis has been verified with tide gauge observations and TOPEX/Poseidon sea surface height data. A correction for crustal movement is applied for tide gauge data along the Japanese coast. The new analysis is suitable for the discussion of global warming. Validation against the tide gauge reveals that the amplitude of thermosteric sea level becomes larger and the agreement improves in comparison with the previous analysis. A substantial part of local sea level rise along the Japanese coast appears to be explained by the thermosteric effect. The thermal expansion averaged in all longitudes from 60°S to 60°N explains at most half of recent sea level rise detected by satellite observation during the last decade. Considerable uncertainties remain in steric sea level, particularly over the southern oceans. Temperature changes within MLD make no effective contribution to steric sea level changes along the Antarctic Circumpolar Current. According to statistics using only reliable profiles of the temperature and salinity analyses, salinity variations are intrinsically important to steric sea level changes in high latitudes and in the Atlantic Ocean. Although data sparseness is severe even in the latest decade, linear trends of global mean thermosteric and halosteric sea level for 1955 to 2003 are estimated to be 0.31 ± 0.07 mm/yr and 0.04 ± 0.01 mm/yr, respectively. These estimates are comparable to those of the former studies.


Temperature analysissalinity analysissteric sea levelTOPEX/Poseidontide gaugecrustal movement

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© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006