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Interannual and interdecadal oscillation patterns in sea level

Abstract

Relative sea-level height (RSLH) data at 213 tide-gauge stations have been analyzed on a monthly and an annual basis to study interannual and interdecadal oscillations, respectively. The main tools of the study are singular spectrum analysis (SSA) and multi-channel SSA (M-SSA). Very-low-frequency variability of RSLH was filtered by SSA to estimate the linear trend at each station. Global sea-level rise, after postglacial rebound corrections, has been found to equal 1.62±0.38 mm/y, by averaging over 175 stations which have a trend consistent with the neighboring ones. We have identified two dominant time scales of El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) variability, quasi-biennial and low-frequency, in the RSLH data at almost all stations. However, the amplitudes of both ENSO signals are higher in the equatorial Pacific and along the west coast of North America. RSLH data were interpolated along ocean coasts by latitudinal intervals of 5 or 10 degrees, depending on station density. Interannual variability was then examined by M-SSA in five regions: eastern Pacific (25°S–55°N at 10° resolution), western Pacific (35°S–45°N at 10°), equatorial Pacific (123°E–169°W, 6 stations), eastern Atlantic (30°S, 0°, and 30°N–70°N at 5°) and western Atlantic (50°S–50°N at 10°). Throughout the Pacific, we have found three dominant spatio-temporal oscillatory patterns, associated with time scales of ENSO variability; their periods are 2, 2.5–3 and 4–6 y. In the eastern Pacific, the biennial mode and the 6-y low-frequency mode propagate poleward. There is a southward propagation of low-frequency modes in the western Pacific RSLH, between 35°N and 5°S, but no clear propagation in the latitudes further south. However, equatorward propagation of the biennial signal is very clear in the Southern Hemisphere. In the equatorial Pacific, both the quasi-quadrennial and quasi-biennial modes at 10°N propagate westward. Strong and weak El Niño years are evident in the sea-level time series reconstructed from the quasi-biennial and low-frequency modes. Interannual variability with periods of 3 and 4–8 y is detected in the Atlantic RSLH data. In the eastern Atlantic region, we have found slow propagation of both modes northward and southward, away from 40–45°N. Interdecadal oscillations were studied using 81 stations with sufficiently long and continuous records. Most of these have variability at 9–13 and some at 18 y. Two significant eigenmode pairs, corresponding to periods of 11.6 and 12.8 y, are found in the eastern and western Atlantic ocean at latitudes 40°N–70°N and 10°N–50°N, respectively.

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Correspondence to Michael Ghil.

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Sezginer Unal, Y., Ghil, M. Interannual and interdecadal oscillation patterns in sea level. Climate Dynamics 11, 255–278 (1995). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00211679

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Keywords

  • Singular Spectrum Analysis
  • ENSO Variability
  • Western Atlantic Ocean
  • Southward Propagation
  • Postglacial Rebound