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The rate of sea-level rise

Publication Year


  • Cazenave, Anny
  • Dieng, Habib-Boubacar
  • Meyssignac, Benoit
  • von Schuckmann, Karina
  • Decharme, Bertrand
  • Berthier, Etienne
NATURE CLIMATE CHANGE Volume: 4 Issue: 5 Pages: 358-361 Published: 2014
1758-678X eISSN: 1758-6798

Present-day sea-level rise is a major indicator of climate change(1). Since the early 1990s, sea level rose at a mean rate of similar to 3.1 mm yr(-1) (refs 2,3). However, over the last decade a slowdown of this rate, of about 30%, has been recorded(4-8). It coincides with a plateau in Earth's mean surface temperature evolution, known as the recent pause in warming(1,9-12). Here we present an analysis based on sea-level data from the altimetry record of the past similar to 20 years that separates interannual natural variability in sea level from the longer-term change probably related to anthropogenic global warming. The most prominent signature in the global mean sea level interannual variability is caused by El Nino-Southern Oscillation, through its impact on the global water cycle(13-16). We find that when correcting for interannual variability, the past decade's slowdown of the global mean sea level disappears, leading to a similar rate of sea-level rise (of 3.3 +/- 0.4mm yr(-1)) during the first and second decade of the altimetry era. Our results confirm the need for quantifying and further removing from the climate records the short-term natural climate variability if one wants to extract the global warming signal(10).

Author Keyword(s)
    KeyWord(s) Plus
    • MODEL
    • GRACE
    ESI Discipline(s)
    • Environment/Ecology
    • Geosciences
    • Social Sciences
    Web of Science Category(ies)
    • Environmental Sciences
    • Environmental Studies
    • Meteorology & Atmospheric Sciences

    [Cazenave, Anny; Dieng, Habib-Boubacar; Meyssignac, Benoit; Berthier, Etienne] Lab Etud Geophys & Oceanog Spatiales, F-31400 Toulouse, France; [von Schuckmann, Karina] Mediterranean Inst Oceanog, F-83957 La Garde, France; [Decharme, Bertrand] Meteo France, Ctr Natl Rech Meteorol, F-31100 Toulouse, France

    Reprint Adress

    Cazenave, A (reprint author), Lab Etud Geophys & Oceanog Spatiales, 18 Ave E Belin, F-31400 Toulouse, France.

    • France
    CNRS - Adress(es)
    • Institut Méditerranéen d'Océanographie (MIO), UMR7294
    • Laboratoire d'études en Géophysique et océanographie spatiales (LEGOS), UMR5566
    Accession Number
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