The imprints of contemporary mass redistribution on local sea level and vertical land motion observations

Frederikse, Thomas; Landerer, Felix W.; Caron, Lambert

Observations from permanent Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) stations are commonly used to correct tide-gauge observations for vertical land motion (VLM). We combine GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment) observations and an ensemble of glacial isostatic adjustment (GIA) predictions to assess and evaluate the impact of solid-Earth deformation (SED) due to contemporary mass redistribution and GIA on VLM trends derived from GNSS stations. This mass redistribution causes relative sea-level (RSL) and SED patterns that not only vary in space but also exhibit large interannual variability signals. We find that for many stations, including stations in coastal locations, this deformation causes VLM trends on the order of 1 inline-formulamm yr−1 or higher. In multiple regions, including the Amazon Basin and large parts of Australia, the SED trend flips sign between the first half and second half of the 15-year GRACE record. GNSS records often only span a few years, and due to these interannual variations SED causes substantial biases when the linear trends in these short records are extrapolated back in time.

We propose a new method to avoid this potential bias in the VLM-corrected tide-gauge record: instead of correcting tide-gauge records for the observed VLM trend, we first remove the effects from GIA and contemporary mass redistributions from the VLM observations before computing the VLM trend. This procedure reduces the extrapolation bias induced by SED, and it also avoids the bias due to sea-floor deformation: SED includes net sea-floor deformation, which is ignored in global-mean sea-level reconstructions based on VLM-corrected tide-gauge data. We apply this method to 8166 GNSS stations. With this separation, we are able to explain a large fraction of the discrepancy between observed sea-level trends at multiple long tide-gauge records and the global-mean sea-level trend from recent reconstructions.

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Frederikse, Thomas / Landerer, Felix W. / Caron, Lambert: The imprints of contemporary mass redistribution on local sea level and vertical land motion observations. 2019. Copernicus Publications.

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