92nd American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting (January 22-26, 2012)

Wednesday, 25 January 2012
Coastal Water Level Climatology
Hall E (New Orleans Convention Center )
Len Pietrafesa, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC; and P. Gayes

Coastal sea level rise and fall are governed deterministically by the astronomical tides, and stochastically by a host of other factors, some human induced and others naturally occurring over time scales ranging from hours to multi-decades. However, true rates of temporal variability and trends, over all local to regional to global spatial scales are not presently fully known. There are several factors that can affect the time history of sea level along US coastlines including the Great Lakes. These factors include but are not limited to: addition of fresh water due to melting of Alpine glaciers and polar ice sheets; auto-compaction of ancient sediments; compaction of deep sediments, particularly in deltaic environments; variations in regional to local isostatic rebound from the last period of glacial loading; local to regional slumps in coastal areas due to sediment discharge loading; slumping due to drainage of local ground-water, i.e. subsurface fluvial withdrawal; precipitation or the lack thereof and coupled watershed responses; steric rises of the water levels of adjacent ocean basin water masses due to increases in the heat content of these water masses; mesoscale to synoptic scale to longer period persistent winds; management practices such as dikes and impoundments that may enhance soil subsidence; climate system factors, oceanic basin wide long wave propagation; and global warming due to anthropogenic influences. Climate systems likely play important roles in contributing to the variability and seemingly induce variations from seasons to decades to centuries, and may fluctuate about differing trends, as a function of geographic location. What of these fluctuations and trends as they may relate to either the weather or climate of the oceans and of the atmosphere? Is the overall rise in sea level related to fossil fuel burning? These questions will be addressed in this presentation.

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