Mitrovica Jerry X.
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PreprintOrigin of spatial variation in US East Coast sea-level trends during 1900-2017(Nature Research, 2018-12-18) Piecuch, Christopher G. ; Huybers, Peter ; Hay, Carling C. ; Kemp, Andrew C. ; Little, Christopher M. ; Mitrovica, Jerry X. ; Ponte, Rui M. ; Tingley, Martin P.Identifying the causes of historical trends in relative sea level—the height of the sea surface relative to Earth’s crust—is a prerequisite for predicting future changes. Rates of change along the U.S. East Coast during the last century were spatially variable, and relative sea level rose faster along the Mid-Atlantic Bight than the South Atlantic Bight and Gulf of Maine. Past studies suggest that Earth’s ongoing response to the last deglaciation1–5, surface redistribution of ice and water 5–9, and changes in ocean circulation9–13 contributed importantly to this large-scale spatial pattern. Here we analyze instrumental data14, 15 and proxy reconstructions4, 12 using probabilistic methods16–18 to show that vertical motions of Earth’s crust exerted the dominant control on regional spatial differences in relative sea level trends along the U.S. East Coast during 1900–2017, explaining a majority of the large-scale spatial variance. Rates of coastal subsidence caused by ongoing relaxation of the peripheral forebulge associated with the last deglaciation are strongest near North Carolina,Maryland, and Virginia. Such structure indicates that Earth’s elastic lithosphere is thicker than has been assumed in other models19–22. We also find a significant coastal gradient in relative sea level trends over this period that is unrelated to deglaciation, and suggests contributions from twentieth-century redistribution of ice and water. Our results indicate that the majority of large-scale spatial variation in longterm rates of relative sea level rise on the U.S. East Coast was due to geological processes that will persist at similar rates for centuries into the future.
ArticleUnderstanding of contemporary regional sea-level change and the implications for the future(American Geophysical Union, 2020-04-17) Hamlington, Benjamin D. ; Gardner, Alex S. ; Ivins, Erik ; Lenaerts, Jan T. M. ; Reager, John T. ; Trossman, David S. ; Zaron, Edward D. ; Adhikari, Surendra ; Arendt, Anthony ; Aschwanden, Andy ; Beckley, Brian D. ; Bekaert, David P. S. ; Blewitt, Geoffrey ; Caron, Lambert ; Chambers, Don P. ; Chandanpurkar, Hrishikesh A. ; Christianson, Knut ; Csatho, Beata ; Cullather, Richard I. ; DeConto, Robert M. ; Fasullo, John T. ; Frederikse, Thomas ; Freymueller, Jeffrey T. ; Gilford, Daniel M. ; Girotto, Manuela ; Hammond, William C. ; Hock, Regine ; Holschuh, Nicholas ; Kopp, Robert E. ; Landerer, Felix ; Larour, Eric ; Menemenlis, Dimitris ; Merrifield, Mark ; Mitrovica, Jerry X. ; Nerem, R. Steven ; Nias, Isabel J. ; Nieves, Veronica ; Nowicki, Sophie ; Pangaluru, Kishore ; Piecuch, Christopher G. ; Ray, Richard D. ; Rounce, David R. ; Schlegel, Nicole‐Jeanne ; Seroussi, Helene ; Shirzaei, Manoochehr ; Sweet, William V. ; Velicogna, Isabella ; Vinogradova, Nadya ; Wahl, Thomas ; Wiese, David N. ; Willis, Michael J.Global sea level provides an important indicator of the state of the warming climate, but changes in regional sea level are most relevant for coastal communities around the world. With improvements to the sea‐level observing system, the knowledge of regional sea‐level change has advanced dramatically in recent years. Satellite measurements coupled with in situ observations have allowed for comprehensive study and improved understanding of the diverse set of drivers that lead to variations in sea level in space and time. Despite the advances, gaps in the understanding of contemporary sea‐level change remain and inhibit the ability to predict how the relevant processes may lead to future change. These gaps arise in part due to the complexity of the linkages between the drivers of sea‐level change. Here we review the individual processes which lead to sea‐level change and then describe how they combine and vary regionally. The intent of the paper is to provide an overview of the current state of understanding of the processes that cause regional sea‐level change and to identify and discuss limitations and uncertainty in our understanding of these processes. Areas where the lack of understanding or gaps in knowledge inhibit the ability to provide the needed information for comprehensive planning efforts are of particular focus. Finally, a goal of this paper is to highlight the role of the expanded sea‐level observation network—particularly as related to satellite observations—in the improved scientific understanding of the contributors to regional sea‐level change.