Determining sea level change in the German Bight

Abstract

Regional mean sea level changes in the German Bight are considered. Index time series derived from 15 tide gauge records are analysed. Two different methods for constructing the index time series are used. The first method uses arithmetic means based on all available data for each time step. The second method uses empirical orthogonal functions. Both methods produce rather similar results for the time period 1924–2008. For this period, we estimate that regional mean sea level increased at rates between 1.64 and 1.74 mm/year with a 90% confidence range of 0.28 mm/year in each case. Before 1924, only data from a few tide gauges are available with the longest record in Cuxhaven ranging back till 1843. Data from these tide gauges, in particular from Cuxhaven, thus receive increasingly more weight when earlier years are considered. It is therefore analysed to what extent data from Cuxhaven are representative for the regional sea level changes in the German Bight. While this cannot be clarified before 1924, it is found that this is not the case from 1924 onwards when changes in Cuxhaven can be compared to that derived from a larger data set. Furthermore, decadal variability was found to be substantial with relatively high values towards the end of the analysis period. However, these values are not unusual when compared to earlier periods.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8
Fig. 9
Fig. 10

Notes

  1. 1.

    Mean sea level and tidal analysis at the German North Sea coastline

  2. 2.

    Note that in the Cuxhaven data a linear trend was added from the year 1855 to the year 1900 (Jensen 1984) to account for vertical land movements. This trend was removed before analysing the data in order to get the relative MSL time series comparable to the other tide gauges.

References

  1. Bindoff NL, Willebrand J, Artale V, Cazenave A, Gregory J, Gulev S, Hanawa K, Le Quéré C, Levitus S, Nojiri Y, Shum CK, Talley LD, Unnikrishnan A (2007) Observations: oceanic climate change and sea level. In: Solomon S, Qin D, Manning M, Chen Z, Marquis M, Averyt KB, Tignor M, Miller HL (eds) Climate change 2007: the physical science basis. Contribution of working group I to the fourth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  2. Church JA, White NJ (2006) A 20th century acceleration in global sea-level rise. Geophys Res Lett 33:LO1602. doi:10.1029/2005GL024826

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Church JA, White NJ, Coleman R, Lambeck K, Mitrovica JX (2004) Estimates of the regional distribution of sea level rise over the 1950–2000 period. J Clim 17:2609–2625

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Church JA, White NJ, Aarup T, Wilson WS, Woodworth PL, Domingues CM, Hunter JR, Lambeck K (2007) Understanding global sea levels: past, present and future. Sustain Sci 3(1):9–22. doi:10.1029/2005GL024826

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Davis JL, Mitrovica JX (1996) Glacial isostatic adjustment and the anomalous tide gauge record of eastern North America. Nature 379:331–333

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Douglas BC (1997) Global sea rise: a redetermination. Surv Geophys 18:279–292

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Haigh I, Nicholls R, Well N (2009) Mean sea level trends around the English channel over the 20th century and their wider context. Cont Shelf Res 29:2083–2098

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Holgate JS (2007) On the decadal rates of sea level change during the twentieth century. Geophys Res Lett 34:L01602. doi:10.1029/2006GL028492

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Holgate JS, Woodworth PL (2004) Evidence for enhanced coastal sea level rise during the 1990s. Geophys Res Lett 31:L07305. doi:10.1029/2004GL019626

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. IKüS (2008) Aufbau eines integrierten Höhenüberwachungssystems in Küstenregionen durch Kombination höhenrelevanter Sensorik (final report). Online available from: http://tu-dresden.de/die_tu_dresden/fakultaeten/fakultaet_forst_geo_und_hydrowissenschaften/fachrichtung_geowissenschaften/gi/gg/veroeffentlichungen/BMBF03KIS055-58.pdf

  11. Jensen (1984) Änderungen der mittleren Tidewasserstände an der Nordseeküste. Mitteilungen des LeichtweiSS-Instituts für Wasserbau der Technischen Universität Braunschweig, Heft 83

  12. Jensen J, Mudersbach C (2004) Zeitliche Änderungen der Wasserstandszeitreihen an den Deutschen Küsten. In: Gönnert G, Grassl H, Kelletat D, Kunz H, Probst B, von Storch H, Sündermann J (Eds) ,,Klimaänderung und Küstenschutz”, 115–128

  13. Jensen J, Mudersbach C (2007) Zeitliche Änderungen in den Wasserstandszeitreihen an den deutschen Küsten. In: Glaser R, Schenk W, Vogt J, WieSSner R, Zepp H, Wardenga U (eds) Berichte zur Deutschen Landeskunde, Themenheft: Küstenszenarien, Band 81, Heft 2:99–112. Selbstverlag Deutsche Akademie für Landeskunde e.V., Leipzig

    Google Scholar 

  14. Jensen J, Mügge HE, Schönfeld W (1992) Analyse der Wasserstandsentwicklung und Tidedynamik in der Deutschen Bucht. Die Küste 53:211–275

    Google Scholar 

  15. Jevrejeva S, Grinsted A, Woodworth PL (2008) Recent global sea level acceleration started over 200 years ago? Geophys Res Lett 35:LO8715, doi:10.1029/2005GL033611

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Jevrejeva S, Moore JC, Grinsted A, Woodworth PL (2006) Nonlinear trends and multiyear cycles in sea level records. J Geophys Res 111:C09012. doi:10.1029/2005JC003229

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Lassen H (1995) Interpretation von Wasserstandsänderungen in der deutschen Bucht auf der Basis der Ergebnisse eines KFKI-Projekts. Die Küste 57:122–134

    Google Scholar 

  18. Meehl GA, Stocker TF, Collins WD, Friedlingstein P, Gaye AT, Gregory JM, Kitoh A, Knutti R, Murphy JR, Noda A, Raper SCB, Watterson IG, Weaver AJ and Zhao ZC (2007) Global Climate Projections. In: Solomon S, Qin D, Manning M, Chen Z, Marquis M, Averyt KB, Tignor M, Miller HL (eds) Climate change 2007: the physical science basis. Contribution of working group I to the fourth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  19. Peltier WR (1996) Global sea level rise and glacial isostatic adjustment: an analysis of data from the East Coast of North America. Geophys Res Lett 23(7):717–720

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. von Storch H, Zwiers F (1998) Statistical analysis in climate research. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  21. Wahl T, Jensen J, Frank T (2008) Changing sea level and tidal dynamics at the German North Sea coastline. In: Proc. of the coastal cities summit 2008—values and vulnerabilities, St. Petersburg, Florida, USA

  22. Wahl T, Jensen J, Frank T (2010) On analysing sea level rise in the German Bight since 1844. Nat Hazards Earth Syst Sci 10:171–179. doi:10.5194/nhess-10-171-2010

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Wahl T, Jensen J, Frank T, Haigh ID (2011) Improved estimates of mean sea level changes in the German Bight over the last 166 years. Ocean Dyn. doi:10.1007/s10236-011-0383-x

    Google Scholar 

  24. Wanninger L, Rost C, Suadau A, Weiss R, Niemeier W, Tengen D, Heinert M, Jahn C-H, Horst S, Schenk A (2010) Bestimmung von Höhenänderungen im Küstenbereich durch Kombination geodätischer Messtechniken, Die Küste 76

  25. Wöppelmann G, Pouvreau N, Simon B (2006) Brest sea level record: a time series construction back to the early eighteenth century. Ocean Dyn 56:487–497. doi:10.1007/s10236-005-0044-z

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Woodworth PL (1987) Trends in UK mean sea level. Mar Geod 11:57–87

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Woodworth PL, Tsimplis MN, Flather RA, Shennan I (1999) A review of the trends observed in British Isles mean sea level data measured by tide gauges. Geophys J Int 136:651–670

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Woodworth PL, Teferle FN, Bingley RM, Shennan I, Williams SDP (2009) Trends in UK mean sea level revisited. Geophys J Int 136:651–670

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

We thank Hanz Niemeyer from the NLWKN-Forschungsstelle Küste for providing us with the digitised data of the Gewässerkundlichen Jahrbücher (GJ). Furthermore, we thank Ivan Haigh for the help with the English language. This work is a contribution to the “Helmholtz Climate Initiative REKLIM” (Regional Climate Change), a joint research project of the Helmholtz Association of German research centres (HGF).

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Frauke Albrecht.

Additional information

Responsible Editor: Birgit Klein

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Albrecht, F., Wahl, T., Jensen, J. et al. Determining sea level change in the German Bight. Ocean Dynamics 61, 2037–2050 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10236-011-0462-z

Download citation

Keywords

  • Regional mean sea level changes
  • German Bight
  • Reconstruction methods
  • Data homogenisation
  • Accelerating sea level rise