The Search for Acceleration, part 7, Western North America

July 30, 2013

magnifying glass 145This is part 7 of a series of posts in which I am searching for a large acceleration in sea level rise rate in the latter part of the 20th century.  Such a rise rate is needed  to reconcile the 1.8 mm per year average rise rate for the century attributed to tide gauge data and the approximately 3 mm per year rise rate for the tail end of the century attributed to the satellite data.

Western North America

This region  has 13 tide gauge sites with at least 90% data completion between 1950 and 2008.  Seven of the sites have data back to 1920 or earlier (but with some gaps).  I will analyse this data in the same manner as the Australian data.  I will start with the usual detrending, weighting, averaging and derivatives.  Then, I will find the portion of the sea level that is orthogonal to the ENSO3.4 sea surface temperature.

This slideshow shows my standard analysis.

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Like Australia, the sea level around the Western coast of North America seems to be related to the El Nino Southern Oscillation.  The following plot shows an overlay of the detrended weighted average of the 13 Western North American tide gauge sites and the NINO3.4 index from the Hadley Centre.  Both are detrended from 1920 to 2008.  Note that the ENSO data scale is inverted.

Enso and Western North America

Now I will  remove the part of the sea level data that correlates to ENSO  by breaking the sea level data down into ENSO correlated and ENSO orthogonal parts. If the ENSO orthogonal part of the sea level is truly independent of ENSO, then it shows what the sea level around Australia would look like without an ENSO effect. Here is the formula for finding the ENSO orthogonal component of the of the sea level data.



The highest rise rate during the period covered by this data occurs around 1980.  But that peak was gone before the the beginning of satellite data.  The 1990s and 2000s show some high and low rise rates, but the highs are no higher than the 1930s, and the lows are lower than the 1940s.  Despite some periods of high rise rates in the 1990s and 2000s, the average rise rate does not indicate a large acceleration over the earlier part of the century.  These conclusions are the same whether or not the ENSO correlated part of the sea level is removed.



20th century rise rate average of 1.8 mm/year

1. Church and White Global Mean Sea Level Reconstruction

2. Links to Church and White sea level data

Satellite data (about 3 mm/year): CU Sea Level Research Group

RLR tide gauge data: Permanent Service For Mean Sea Level

ENSO/Global warming relationship: Cobb, et. al., Science, 339, 1/4/13

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