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Sea-level trend uncertainty with Pacific climatic variability and temporally-correlated noise


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Royston, S ORCID: 0000-0002-7685-5043, Watson, CS ORCID: 0000-0002-7464-4592, Legresy, B, King, MA ORCID: 0000-0001-5611-9498, Church, JA and Bos, MS 2018 , 'Sea-level trend uncertainty with Pacific climatic variability and temporally-correlated noise' , Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, vol. 123, no. 3 , pp. 1978-1993 , doi: 10.1002/2017JC013655.

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Recent studies have identified climatic drivers of the east-west see-saw of Pacific Ocean satellite altimetry era sea level trends and a number of sea-level trend and acceleration assessments attempt to account for this. We investigate the effect of Pacific climate variability, together with temporally-correlated noise, on linear trend error estimates and determine new time-of-emergence (ToE) estimates across the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Sea-level trend studies often advocate the use of auto-regressive (AR) noise models to adequately assess formal uncertainties, yet sea level often exhibits colored but non-AR(1) noise. Standard error estimates are over- or under-estimated by an AR(1) model for much of the Indo-Pacific sea level. Allowing for PDO and ENSO variability in the trend estimate only reduces standard errors across the tropics and we find noise characteristics are largely unaffected. Of importance for trend and acceleration detection studies, formal error estimates remain on average up to 1.6 times those from an AR(1) model for longduration tide gauge data. There is an even chance that the observed trend from the satellite altimetry era exceeds the noise in patches of the tropical Pacific and Indian Oceans and the south-west and north-east Pacific gyres. By including climate indices in the trend analysis, the time it takes for the observed linear sealevel trend to emerge from the noise reduces by up to 2 decades.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Royston, S and Watson, CS and Legresy, B and King, MA and Church, JA and Bos, MS
Keywords: sea-level rise, time of emergence, natural variability, noise, altimetry
Journal or Publication Title: Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
ISSN: 2169-9275
DOI / ID Number: 10.1002/2017JC013655
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2018 American Geophysical Union

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