Sea level rise in the Arctic Ocean



About 60 tide-gauge stations in the Kara, Laptev, East-Siberian and Chukchi Seas have recorded the sea level change from the 1950s through 1990s. Over this 40-year period, most of these stations show a significant sea level rise (SLR). In light of global change, this SLR could be a manifestation of warming in the Arctic coupled with a decrease of sea ice extent, warming of Atlantic waters, changes in the Arctic Ocean circulation, and an increase in coastal erosion and thawing of permafrost.

We have analyzed monthly mean sea level data and assessed the role that different factors may play in influencing the process of sea level change in the Arctic Ocean. Analysis of the observational data and model results shows that changes in the patterns of wind-driven and thermohaline circulation may account for most of the increase of sea level in the Arctic Ocean and their cumulative action can explain more than 80% of the sea level variability during 1950–1990.