The sea-level budget along the Northwest Atlantic coast: GIA, mass changes, and large-scale ocean dynamics

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Abstract

Sea-level rise and decadal variability along the northwestern coast of the North Atlantic Ocean are studied in a self-consistent framework that takes into account the effects of solid-earth deformation and geoid changes due to large-scale mass redistribution processes. Observations of sea and land level changes from tide gauges and GPS are compared to the cumulative effect of GIA, present-day mass redistribution, and ocean dynamics over a 50 year period (1965–2014). GIA explains the majority of the observed sea-level and land motion trends, as well as almost all interstation variability. Present-day mass redistribution resulting from ice melt and land hydrology causes both land uplift and sea-level rise in the region. We find a strong correlation between decadal steric variability in the Subpolar Gyre and coastal sea level, which is likely caused by variability in the Labrador Sea that is propagated southward. The steric signal explains the majority of the observed decadal sea-level variability and shows an upward trend and a significant acceleration, which are also found along the coast. The sum of all contributors explains the observed trends in both sea-level rise and vertical land motion in the region, as well as the decadal variability. The sum of contributors also explains the observed acceleration within confidence intervals. The sea-level acceleration coincides with an accelerating density decrease at high latitudes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5486-5501
Number of pages16
JournalJournal Of Geophysical Research-Oceans
Volume122
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2017

Keywords

  • climate change
  • North Atlantic
  • sea-level budget
  • Subpolar Gyre
  • US East Coast

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