Decadal Sea Level Variability in the South Pacific in a Global Eddy-Resolving Ocean Model Hindcast

Yoshi N. Sasaki, Shoshiro Minobe, Niklas Schneider, Takashi Kagimoto, Masami Nonaka, Hideharu Sasaki
2008 Journal of Physical Oceanography  
Sea level variability and related oceanic changes in the South Pacific from 1970 to 2003 are investigated using a hindcast simulation of an eddy-resolving ocean general circulation model (OGCM) for the Earth Simulator (OFES), along with sea level data from tide gauges since 1970 and a satellite altimeter since 1992. The first empirical orthogonal function mode of sea level anomalies (SLAs) of OFES exhibits broad positive SLAs over the central and western South Pacific. The corresponding
more » ... l component indicates roughly stable high, low, and high SLAs, separated by a rapid sea level fall in the late 1970s and sea level rise in the late 1990s, consistent with tide gauge and satellite observations. These decadal changes are accompanied by circulation changes of the subtropical gyre at 1000-m depth, and changes of upper-ocean zonal current and eddy activity around the Tasman Front. In general agreement with previous related studies, it is found that sea level variations in the Tasman Sea can be explained by propagation of long baroclinic Rossby waves forced by wind stress curl anomalies, if the impact of New Zealand is taken into account. The corresponding atmospheric variations are associated with decadal variability of El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO). Thus, decadal sea level variability in the western and central South Pacific in the past three and half decades and decadal ENSO variability are likely to be connected. The sea level rise in the 1990s, which attracted much attention in relation to the global warming, is likely associated with the decadal cooling in the tropical Pacific.
doi:10.1175/2007jpo3915.1 fatcat:lgboihutebadbfmgu2xrnit4oy