Articles | Volume 5, issue 2
17 Jun 2009
 | 17 Jun 2009

A new assessment of the error budget of global mean sea level rate estimated by satellite altimetry over 1993–2008

M. Ablain, A. Cazenave, G. Valladeau, and S. Guinehut

Abstract. A new error budget assessment of the global Mean Sea Level (MSL) determined by TOPEX/Poseidon and Jason-1 altimeter satellites between January 1993 and June 2008 is presented using last altimeter standards. We discuss all potential errors affecting the calculation of the global MSL rate. We also compare altimetry-based sea level with tide gauge measurements over the altimetric period. Applying a statistical approach, this allows us to provide a realistic error budget of the MSL rise measured by satellite altimetry. These new calculations highlight a reduction in the rate of sea level rise since 2005, by ~2 mm/yr. This represents a 60% reduction compared to the 3.3 mm/yr sea level rise (glacial isostatic adjustment correction applied) measured between 1993 and 2005. Since November 2005, MSL is accurately measured by a single satellite, Jason-1. However the error analysis performed here indicates that the recent reduction in MSL rate is real.