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New research applies innovative statistical framework to observe and model coastal sea level distribution


Sea levels have been rapidly changing during the past decades on both regional and global scales. These changes may bring uncertainty and concern to many coastal communities. A new study, funded in part by the Climate Program Office’s Climate Variability & Predictability (CVP) Program proposes a new statistical framework to study changes in coastal sea level distributions. The framework was applied to coastal daily sea level measured by tide gauges over a 47-year period. Results yielded that changes in the simulated coastal sea level arose mainly by changes in the mean, which is confirmed by the observed data. The framework was also applied to a modeling experiment depicting a warming ocean (an increase of CO2 concentration). In contrast with the gauge data, a large increase in significant changes in the mean of the distribution was found. The researchers concluded that the changes in the warming scenario may be driven in part by ocean circulation alone and amplified by sea level pressure fluctuations. Published in Environmental Data Science, this study was performed by a group of CVP-supported scientists that included Fabrizio Falasca, Andrew Brettin and Laure Zanna from New York University, Jianjun Yin (University of Arizona), Stephen M. Griffies and Ming Zhao (NOAA/GFDL). This research is part of the Decadal Variability and Predictability studies, which aim to identify the state, mechanisms, and sources of climate predictability on the interannual to decadal timescale. The research will lead to future improvements in skillful decadal prediction systems for climate—ocean and atmosphere, especially along coastal areas. 

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For more information, contact Jose Algarin.

Image credit: Pixabay


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