Publication details.


Author(s):Guy. Wöppelmann, Marta. Marcos
Title:Vertical land motion as a key to understanding sea level change and variability
JCR Impact Factor:12.34
Abstract:Vertical land motions are a key element in understanding how sea levels have changed over the past century and how future sea levels may impact coastal areas. Ideally, to be useful in long-term sea level studies, vertical land motion should be determined with standard errors that are 1 order of magnitude lower than the contemporary climate signals of 1 to 3 mm/yr observed on average in sea level records, either using tide gauges or satellites. This metrological requirement constitutes a challenge in geodesy. Here we review the most successful instrumental methods that have been used to determine vertical displacements at the Earth's surface, so that the objectives of understanding and anticipating sea levels can be addressed adequately in terms of accuracy. In this respect, the required level of uncertainty is examined in two case studies (global and local). A special focus is given to the use of the Global Positioning System (GPS) and to the combination of satellite radar altimetry with tide gauge data. We update previous data analyses and assess the quality of global satellite altimetry products available to the users for coastal applications. Despite recent advances, a near-plateau level of accuracy has been reached. The major limitation is the realization of the terrestrial reference frame, whose physical parameters, the origin and the scale factor, are beyond the scope of a unique technique such as the GPS. Additional practical but nonetheless important issues are associated with the installation of GPS antennas, such as ensuring that there is no unknown differential vertical motion with the tide gauge.

Related staff

  • Marta Marcos Moreno