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Theses

Variations actuelles du niveau de la mer

Abstract : Since the early 1990s sea level is routinely measured using high-precision altimeter satellites. These observe a rise in global mean sea level (GMSL) of 3.4 ± 0.4 mm/yr over the 1993-2016 period (which is twice what has been observed during the 20th century by the tide gauges, with a rise of 1.7 +/- 0.3 mm/yr). The interannual variability in the GMSL can reach several millimeters, especially during ENSO events. The rate of sea level rise is not regionally uniform. During the altimetry era, it was three times faster than the global mean in some areas. During the 21st century, we expect a greater rise of the GMSL than today, up to 1 m in 2100, with strong regional variability. It is therefore important to understand the current evolution of the sea level, since it represents a serious threat to many low coastal areas, often densely populated of the planet. My thesis research deals with the Sea Level CCI (Climate Change Initiative) project of the European Space Agency (ESA) which objective is to provide improved sea level products combining several altimetry missions, including Topex/Poseidon, Jason-1/2, ERS-1/2 and Envisat. The primary objective of my thesis was to validate the CCI sea level products using different approaches, in particular the sea level budget approach. It consists of comparing the observed GMSL with the sum of different contributions : the steric component, melting of continental ice and transfers of water between the land surface and oceans. Another objective was to estimate the poorly known components to sea level rise, in particular the heat content of the deep ocean not measurable by Argo, and the contribution of water storage on the land. My work has shown that the contribution of the deep ocean below 2000m to the rising sea level is small over the 2005-2013 periods and not significant compared to the data uncertainties. The main uncertainties come from: (1) -in terms of trend- the altimetry sea level products and gaps in the geographical coverage of Argo data in the Indonesian region, and (2) -in terms of interannual variability- the GRACE and Argo products. My results and the method used show that the sea level and its components are still affected by important errors. In the second part, I analyzed the influence of ENSO (El Niño and La Niña) on the interannual variations of the GMSL. I showed that during La Niña events, like that of 2010-2011, the rainfall deficit over the ocean (and excess over the continents) leads to a temporary decrease in the global ocean mass and therefore in the GMSL. This is essentially the ocean mass variation that explains the interannual variability of the GMSL during ENSO events. Furthermore, the deficit (La Niña) or excess (El Niño) ocean mass is confined in the north tropical Pacific Ocean. Finally, I analyzed the evolution of the average temperature of air and ocean surface over the period of the "hiatus" (2003-2013). I showed that this hiatus, i.e. the recent slowdown in the rise of the global mean Earth's temperature is an almost global phenomenon, though cooling of the tropical eastern Pacific has slightly contributed. This recent pause is attributable to natural internal climate variability. The Earth is indeed still in a state of energetic imbalance due to the accumulation of greenhouse gases. I highlighted the role of the natural variability that is superimposed to the anthropogenic global warming.
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Habib Boubacar Dieng. Variations actuelles du niveau de la mer. Océan, Atmosphère. Université Paul Sabatier - Toulouse III, 2017. Français. ⟨NNT : 2017TOU30003⟩. ⟨tel-01699179⟩

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