Haigh, Ivan, Nicholls, Robert and Wells, Neil
Mean sea level trends around the English Channel over the 20th century and their wider context
Continental Shelf Research, 29, (17), . (doi:10.1016/j.csr.2009.07.013).
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This paper provides estimates of rates of change in mean sea level around the English Channel, based on an extensive new hourly sea level data set for the south coast of the UK, derived from data archaeology. Mean sea level trends are found to vary by between 0.8 and 2.3 mm/yr around the Channel. The rates of mean sea level change are calculated by removing the coherent part of the sea level variability from the time series of annual mean sea level before fitting linear trends. The improvement in accuracy gained by using this approach is assessed by comparing trends with those calculated using the more traditional method, in which linear trends are fitted directly to the original records. Removal of the coherent part of the sea level variability allows more precise trends to be calculated from records spanning 30 years. With the traditional approach 50 years is required to obtain the same level of accuracy. Rates of vertical land movement are approximated by subtracting the mean sea level trends from the most recent regional estimate of change in sea level due to oceanographic processes only. These estimated rates are compared to measurements from geological data and advanced geodetic techniques. There is good agreement around most of the UK. However, the rates estimated from the sea level records imply that the geological data suggest too much submergence along the western and central parts of the UK south coast. Lastly, the paper evaluates whether the high rates of mean sea level rise of the last decade are unusual compared to trends observed at other periods in the historical record and finds that they are not.
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