Surveys in Geophysics

, Volume 38, Issue 1, pp 329–348

Internal Variability Versus Anthropogenic Forcing on Sea Level and Its Components

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

DOI: 10.1007/s10712-016-9373-3

Cite this article as:
Marcos, M., Marzeion, B., Dangendorf, S. et al. Surv Geophys (2017) 38: 329. doi:10.1007/s10712-016-9373-3


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 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marta Marcos
    • 1
  • 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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