Current observed global mean sea level rise and acceleration estimated from satellite altimetry and the associated measurement uncertainty

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We present the latest release of the global mean sea level (GMSL) record produced by the French space agency Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) and distributed on the AVISO+ website. This dataset is based on reprocessed along-track data, so-called L2P21, of the reference missions TOPEX/Poseidon (TP) and Jason-1, Jason-2 and Jason-3. The L2P21 CNES/AVISO+ GMSL record covers the period January 1993 to December 2021 and is now delivered with an estimate of its measurement uncertainties following the method presented in . Based on the latest calibration (Cal) and validation (Val) knowledge, we updated the uncertainty budget of the reference altimetry mission measurements and demonstrate that the CNES/AVISO+ GMSL record now achieves stability of performances of ±0.3mmyr-1 at the 90% confidence level (C.L.) for its trend and ±0.05mmyr-2 (90%C.L.) for its acceleration over the 29 years of the altimetry record. Thanks to an analysis of the relative contribution of each measurement uncertainty budget contributor, i.e. the altimeter, the radiometer, the orbit determination and the geophysical corrections, we identified the current limiting factors to the GMSL monitoring stability and accuracy. We find that the radiometer wet troposphere correction (WTC) and the high-frequency errors with timescales shorter than 1 year are the major contributors to the GMSL measurement uncertainty over periods of 10 years (30%-70%), for both the trend and acceleration estimations. For longer periods of 20 years, the TP data quality is still a limitation, but more interestingly, the International Terrestrial Reference Frame (ITRF) realization uncertainties becomes dominant over all the other sources of uncertainty. Such a finding challenges the altimetry observing system as it is designed today and highlights clear topics of research to be explored in the future to help the altimetry community to improve the GMSL measurement accuracy and stability.




Guérou, A., Meyssignac, B., Prandi, P., Ablain, M., Ribes, A., & Bignalet-Cazalet, F. (2023). Current observed global mean sea level rise and acceleration estimated from satellite altimetry and the associated measurement uncertainty. Ocean Science, 19(2), 431–451.

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