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Sea level in ocean reanalyses and tide gauges



[1] Previous studies have noted the presence of interannual to multidecadal variability in tide gauge sea level records which is correlated with meteorological variability and which can overwhelm the signal associated with global sea level rise. This study examines the usefulness of using a set of seven ocean reanalysis and synthesis products in studies of sea level variability by comparing the tide gauges and reanalysis products at a representative set of 87 tide gauge station locations. The comparison is carried out for both a half-century base period and a century long-extended period. Treating the set of products as an ensemble of realizations obtained using different techniques, the results show generally good agreement for the half-century period with ensemble average correlations of 0.57 and RMS differences of 2.2 cm, reducing to a correlation of 0.5 for the extended period. A significant fraction of the difference between tide gauge sea level and product sea level is associated with meteorological forcing. These results support the conclusion that much of the interannual to multidecadal variability that appears in the tide gauge records is meteorologically driven. This suggests that ocean products have potential to be used to isolate this variability from the signal associated with the underlying global sea level rise.

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