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The dynamic mechanism of sea level variations in the Bohai Sea and Yellow Sea

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Sea level rise has important implications for coastal regions. In this study, seasonal and interannual variations of sea level in the Bohai Sea and Yellow Sea (BYS) from 1993 to 2017 are investigated using the reanalysis product Estimating the Circulation and Climate of the Ocean (ECCO). Sea level is comprised of two major components: steric sea level and ocean bottom pressure (OBP). On seasonal time scales, steric sea level and OBP have considerable contributions to the sea level variations in the BYS. The sea level in the deep water is dominated by steric sea level, while OBP controls the coastal sea level. Diagnostic analysis further suggests that the steric change is owing to temperature change. On interannual timescales, the contribution of steric effect is indiscernible, and OBP dominates the variability of sea level in the BYS. The seasonal and interannual variability of OBP is forced by wind-induced Ekman transport, and is closely related to the North Pacific Oscillation (NPO) during wintertime. Moreover, Kuroshio modulates the interannual variability of sea level in the BYS via controlling water volume transport from the Pacific Ocean to the BYS. This study sheds light on the mechanism of sea level low-frequency variability in the BYS, and complements the dynamic processes along the coast.

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Data availability

The datasets used in this study are available in the AVISO (, ERA5 (!/dataset/reanalysis-era5-single-levels-monthly-means?tab=form), ECCO V4r4 (


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This work was supported by the Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant no. 41876002).

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XC designed research. Material preparation, data collection and analysis were performed by HL. HL and JQ written the manuscript. GZ and LJ improved the manuscript. All authors approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Xuhua Cheng.

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Liu, H., Cheng, X., Qin, J. et al. The dynamic mechanism of sea level variations in the Bohai Sea and Yellow Sea. Clim Dyn 61, 2937–2947 (2023).

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