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Concept: Ocean Surface Topography Mission

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Using a 25-y time series of precision satellite altimeter data from TOPEX/Poseidon, Jason-1, Jason-2, and Jason-3, we estimate the climate-change-driven acceleration of global mean sea level over the last 25 y to be 0.084 ± 0.025 mm/y2Coupled with the average climate-change-driven rate of sea level rise over these same 25 y of 2.9 mm/y, simple extrapolation of the quadratic implies global mean sea level could rise 65 ± 12 cm by 2100 compared with 2005, roughly in agreement with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 5th Assessment Report (AR5) model projections.

Concepts: Sea level, Oceanography, Climate change, Atmospheric pressure, Ocean, Altimeter, Ocean Surface Topography Mission, TOPEX/Poseidon

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Contemporary applications of radar altimetry include sea-level rise, ocean circulation, marine gravity, and icesheet elevation change. Unlike InSAR and GNSS, which are widely used to map surface deformation, altimetry is neither reliant on highly temporally-correlated ground features nor as limited by the available spatial coverage, and can provide long-term temporal subsidence monitoring capability. Here we use multi-mission radar altimetry with an approximately 23 year data-span to quantify land subsidence in cropland areas. Subsidence rates from TOPEX/POSEIDON, JASON-1, ENVISAT, and JASON-2 during 1992-2015 show time-varying trends with respect to displacement over time in California’s San Joaquin Valley and central Taiwan, possibly related to changes in land use, climatic conditions (drought) and regulatory measures affecting groundwater use. Near Hanford, California, subsidence rates reach 18 cm yr(-1) with a cumulative subsidence of 206 cm, which potentially could adversely affect operations of the planned California High-Speed Rail. The maximum subsidence rate in central Taiwan is 8 cm yr(-1). Radar altimetry also reveals time-varying subsidence in the North China Plain consistent with the declines of groundwater storage and existing water infrastructure detected by the Gravity Recovery And Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites, with rates reaching 20 cm yr(-1) and cumulative subsidence as much as 155 cm.

Concepts: Sea level, Climate, Beijing, Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment, Altimeter, San Joaquin Valley, Ocean Surface Topography Mission, TOPEX/Poseidon