Comparing tide gauge observations to regional patterns of sea-level change (1961–2003)
Although the global mean sea-level budget for the 20th century can now be closed, the understanding of sea-level change on a regional scale is still limited. In this study we compare observations from tide gauges to regional patterns from various contributions to sea-level change to see how much of the regional measurements can be explained. Processes that are included are land ice mass changes and terrestrial storage changes with associated gravitational, rotational and deformational effects, steric/dynamic changes, atmospheric pressure loading and glacial isostatic adjustment (GIA). The study focuses on the mean linear trend of regional sea-level rise between 1961 and 2003. It is found that on a regional level the explained variance of the observed trend is 0.87 with a regression coefficient of 1.07. The observations and models overlap within the 1σ uncertainty range in all regions. The main processes explaining the variability in the observations appear to be the steric/dynamic component and the GIA. Local observations prove to be more difficult to explain because they show larger spatial variations, and therefore require more information on small-scale processes.