Climatic Change

, Volume 119, Issue 1, pp 37–48 | Cite as

Recent sea level and upper ocean temperature variability and trends; cook islands regional results and perspective



The goal of this paper is to provide information on the sea level and upper ocean temperature variability and trends in the Cook Islands region within a global context. Oceanic fisheries variability and change take place within the physical environment. Because the state of the historical data set is not as would be desired, we begin with some review of data distribution issues. We provide some new results from the Cook Islands region but draw upon previous work for information about the global and ocean-basin scale context. There are clear trends over recent decades in sea level and, generally, in upper ocean temperature, but there is also substantial interannual and interdecadal variability, which are larger locally than globally. Because of this variability, it is not possible to say if recent Cook Islands regional trends are representative of longer-term trends, or if longer-term trends have increased recently. Trends in the Cook Islands region over the last four decades are ~0.1–0.3 °C per decade in near surface temperature and ~2–3 cm sea level per decade.



This work was supported by the NOAA Office of Climate Observations and NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environment Laboratory. “The altimeter products were produced by Ssalto/Duacs and distributed by Aviso, with support from Cnes (” The tide gauge data was provided by the Permanent Service for Mean Sea Level.


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Copyright information

© U.S. Government 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.NOAA/PMEL and University of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  2. 2.University of HamburgHamburgGermany

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