Surveys in Geophysics

, Volume 38, Issue 1, pp 329–348 | Cite as

Internal Variability Versus Anthropogenic Forcing on Sea Level and Its Components

  • Marta MarcosEmail author
  • Ben Marzeion
  • Sönke Dangendorf
  • Aimée B. A. Slangen
  • Hindumathi Palanisamy
  • Luciana Fenoglio-Marc


In this paper we review and update detection and attribution studies in sea level and its major contributors during the past decades. Tide gauge records reveal that the observed twentieth-century global and regional sea level rise is out of the bounds of its natural variability, evidencing thus a human fingerprint in the reported trends. The signal varies regionally, and it partly depends on the magnitude of the background variability. The human fingerprint is also manifested in the contributors of sea level for which observations are available, namely ocean thermal expansion and glaciers’ mass loss, which dominated the global sea level rise over the twentieth century. Attribution studies provide evidence that the trends in both components are clearly dominated by anthropogenic forcing over the second half of the twentieth century. In the earlier decades, there is a lack of observations hampering an improved attribution of causes to the observed sea level rise. At certain locations along the coast, the human influence is exacerbated by local coastal activities that induce land subsidence and increase the risk of sea level-related hazards.


Mean sea level rise Thermal expansion Glaciers melting Detection and attribution Land subsidence 



M. Marcos acknowledges a “Ramon y Cajal” contract funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy. This work was supported by the Research Project CLIMPACT (CGL2014-54246-C2-1-R) funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy. S. Dangendorf acknowledges a Visiting Research Grant from the University of the Balearic Islands. A. Slangen is supported by a CSIRO Office of the Chief Executive Fellowship. H. Palanisamy is supported by a CNES/CLS Ph.D. fund. L. Fenoglio acknowledges the support by DFG in the frame of the COSELE Project. This paper is an outcome of the ISSI workshop on “Integrative study of sea level”.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marta Marcos
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ben Marzeion
    • 2
  • Sönke Dangendorf
    • 3
  • Aimée B. A. Slangen
    • 4
    • 5
  • Hindumathi Palanisamy
    • 6
  • Luciana Fenoglio-Marc
    • 7
  1. 1.Mediterranean Institute for Advanced Studies (UIB-CSIC)MallorcaSpain
  2. 2.University of BremenBremenGermany
  3. 3.University of SiegenSiegenGermany
  4. 4.Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research OrganisationHobartAustralia
  5. 5.Institute for Marine and Atmospheric ResearchUtrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands
  6. 6.Laboratoire d’Etudes en Géophysique et Océanographie SpatialesToulouseFrance
  7. 7.University of BonnBonnGermany

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