Local and Remote Forcing of Interannual Sea-Level Variability at Nantucket Island

   The change in the rate of sea-level rise in the northeast coast of the United States in the past few decades was 3–4 times higher than that of the global mean sea-level rise. The magnitude of interannual sea-level variations in this region is even larger than the long-term change over the last few decades. The causes of these interannual variations are, however, not well understood, limiting the ability to predict sea-level variations in the region. A recent peer-reviewed study co-authored by Verisk Atmospheric and Environmental Research Principal Scientist Rui M. Ponte identifies the causality of interannual variations of sea level near Nantucket Island with wind and buoyancy forcing. The latter is the combination of air-sea heat and freshwater fluxes. The study employs advanced computational methods to separate the contributions of these forcings to variations in Nantucket sea level. Wind contributions are primarily local and from regions northeast of Nantucket along the New England shelf. Local and remote contributions from buoyancy forcing are overall smaller than wind contributions but can be comparable to the latter in some years. In particular, buoyancy forcing from the subpolar North Atlantic can affect Nantucket sea level a few years later, providing a source of predictability for this region.

Citation & Web Link: Local and Remote Forcing of Interannual Sea-Level Variability at Nantucket Island

O. Wang, T. Lee, C. G. Piecuch, I. Fukumori, I. Fenty, T. Frederikse, D. Menemenlis, R. M. Ponte, and H. Zhang

Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 127, e2021JC018275, 2022

Principal Scientist, Atmosphere, Ocean and Climate