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Annual sea level variations off Atlantic Canada from satellite altimetry

Guoqi Han, Nancy Chen, Zhimin Ma

Abstract

Annual cycle of sea level off Atlantic Canada has been investigated based on a merged satellite altimetry dataset and a monthly temperature and salinity dataset. The altimetric results were compared with coastal tide-gauge data and steric height calculated from the temperature and salinity dataset. There was a general north-south variation in the amplitude of the altimetric annual cycle, increasing from 4 cm in the Labrador Sea to 15 cm in the Gulf Stream and the North Atlantic Current Region. The annual cycle in the deep ocean can approximately be accounted for by the steric height variability relative to 700 m, in which the thermosteric effect was the dominant contributor. The halosteric effect over the continental slope, especially over the northern Labrador Slope was also important. While the thermosteric effect occurred dominantly at the top 100 m water column, there was substantial halosteric variation in the 100–300 m water column. The annual sea level cycle along the Canadian Atlantic coast showed a complicated pattern in amplitude, but the phase was highly coherent with the highest sea level in fall. The steric height accounts for a substantial portion of the coastal annual cycle, but other factors such as wind forcing may be equally important.

Keywords

sea level; annual cycle; thermosteric height; halosteric height; satellite altimetry; Northwest Atlantic

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18063/SOM.2016.01.002
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