Secular Trends in Global Tides Derived From Satellite Radar Altimetry

I. Bij de Vaate*, D.C. Slobbe, M. Verlaan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Previous studies have demonstrated that tides are subject to considerable changes on secular time scales. However, these studies rely on sea level observations from tide gauges that are predominantly located in coastal and shelf regions and therefore, the large-scale patterns remain uncertain. Now, for the first time, satellite radar altimetry (TOPEX/Poseidon & Jason series) has been used to study worldwide linear trends in tidal harmonic constants of four major tides (M2, S2, O1, and K1). This study demonstrates both the potential and challenges of using satellite data for the quantification of such long-term changes. Two alternative methods were implemented. In the first method, tidal harmonic constants were estimated for consecutive 4-year periods, from which the linear change was then estimated. In the second method, the estimation of linear trends in the tidal constants of the four tides was integrated in the harmonic analysis. First, both methods were assessed by application to tide gauge data that were sub-sampled to the sampling scheme of the satellites. Thereafter the methods were applied to the real satellite data. Results show both statistically significant decreases and increases in amplitude up to 1 mm/year and significant phase changes up to ∼0.1 deg/year. The level of agreement between altimeter-derived trends and estimates from tide gauge data differs per region and per tide.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2022JC018845
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • global change
  • satellite radar altimetry
  • secular change
  • tides


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