Open Journal Systems

Annual sea level variations off Atlantic Canada from satellite altimetry

Guoqi Han, Nancy Chen, Zhimin Ma

Article ID: 181
Vol 1, Issue 1, 2017, Article identifier:19-28

VIEWS - 1197 (Abstract) 248 (PDF)


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.


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

Full Text:


Included Database


Antonov J I, Levitus S and Boyer T P. (2002). Steric sea level variations during 1957–1994: Importance of salinity, Journal of Geophysical Research, 107(C12): SRF 14-1– SRF 14-8.

Archiving, Validation and Interpretation of Satellites Oceanographic data n.d., viewd 15 November, 2015,

Csanady G T and Hamilton P. (1988). Circulation of slopewater, Continental Shelf Research, 8(5–7): 565–624.

Ducet N, Le Traon P Y and Reverdin G. (2000). Global high resolution mapping of ocean circulation from TOPEX/ Poseidon and ERS-1 and -2, Journal of Geophysical Re-search, 105(C8): 19477–19498.

Fu L L and Cazenave A. (Eds.) (2001). Satellite Altimetry and Earth Sciences: A Handbook of Technique and Applications, Academic Press: Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Greatbatch R J, deYoung B, Goulding A et al. (1990). On the influence of local and North Atlantic wind forcing on the seasonal variation of sea level on the Newfoundland and Labrador Shelf, Journal of Geophysical Research. 95 (C4): 5279–5289.

Han G. (2002). Interannual sea level variations in the Scotia-Maine region in the 1990s, Canadian Journal of Remote Sensing, 28(4): 581–587.

Han G. (2004). Sea level and surface current variability in the Gulf of St. Lawrence from satellite altimetry, International Journal of Remote Sensing, 25(22): 5069–5088.

Han G. (2005). Wind-driven barotropic circulation off New-foundland and Labrador, Continental Shelf Research, 25(17): 2084–2106.

Han G. (2007). Satellite observations of seasonal and interannual changes of sea level and currents over the Scotian Slope, Journal of Physical Oceanography, 37(4): 1051–1065.

Han G, Tang C L and Smith P C. (2002). Annual variations of sea surface elevations and currents over the Scotian Shelf and Slope. Journal of Physical Oceanography, 32(6): 1794–1810.<1794:AVOSSE>2.0.CO;2.

Ishii M, Kimoto M, Sakamoto K et al. (2006). Steric sea level changes estimated from historical ocean subsurface temperature and salinity analyses. Journal of Oceanography,62(2): 155–170.

Ishii M and Kimoto M. (2009). Reevaluation of historical ocean heat content variations with time-varying XBT and MBT depth bias corrections, Journal of Oceanography, 65(3): 287–299.

Jet Propulsion Laboratory California Institute of Technology n.d., viewed 15 November, 2015,

McLellan H J. (1957). On the distinctness and origin of the slope water off the Scotian Shelf and its easterly flow south of the Grand Banks, Journal of the Fisheries Research Board of Canada, 14(2): 213–239.

North American Regional Reanalysis n.d., viewed 15 November, 2015,

Petrie B and Anderson C. (1983). Circulation on the Newfoundland continental shelf, Atmosphere-Ocean, 21(2): 207–226.

Permanent Service for Mean Sea Level n.d., viewd 15 December, 2015, <>

Vignudelli S, Kostianoy A, Cipollini, P et al. (Eds.) (2011). Coastal Altimetry, Springer-Verlag: Berlin Heidelberg.

(1197 Abstract Views, 248 PDF Downloads)


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2016 Satellite Oceanography and Meteorology