Atmosphere Ocean Science Colloquium

The dynamics of Atlantic sea level change

Speaker: Laure Zanna

Location: Warren Weaver Hall 1302

Date: Wednesday, September 27, 2017, 3:30 p.m.


Observed global mean sea level has risen by nearly 20 cm over the past century and is forecasted to rise by another 50-70 cm by 2100, with large implications for coastal cities. Although changes to the global mean sea level are well understood, there is much greater uncertainty in the prediction of regional sea level and its dynamics. A large number of dynamical and thermodynamical processes are contributing to sea level change.  In this talk, I will identify some key processes shaping the patterns of regional sea level in the Atlantic Ocean across a range of timescales.  I will concentrate on latitudinal changes in sea level rise using models, theory, and observations.  On interannual timescales, I will show how wind and eddies contribute to the sea level variability and its predictability.  On decadal timescales, I will identify how changes in ocean circulation skew the regional distribution of the sea level rise,  mainly using Greens functions derived from observational estimates. I will conclude with some thought on understanding projections of regional sea level under future climate change.