Ongoing research project |
2014 - 2017

European Space Agency (ESA) Climate Change Initiative (CCI) Sea Level (SL)              

Sea level is a very sensitive index of climate change and variability. As the ocean warms in response to global warming, sea waters expand and, as a result, sea level rises. When mountain glaciers melt in response to increasing air temperature, sea level rises because more freshwater glacial runoff discharges into the oceans. Similarly, ice mass loss from the ice sheets causes sea-level rise. The increase of freshwater flowing into the oceans reduces its salinity, decreasing its density and affecting ocean circulation patterns that in turn affect sea level and its spatial variability.

The global mean level of the oceans is an indicator of climate change. It incorporates the reactions from several different components of the climate system. Precise monitoring of changes in the mean level of the oceans is vitally important for understanding not just the climate but also the socio-economic consequences of any rise in sea level.

CCI Sea Level is one of the fourteen ESA CCI ECV (Essential Climate Variable) projects dedicated to the ECV data production.  The main objective of the sea level CCI project is to produce and validate a Sea Level ECV product through the involvement of independent climate research groups. The main objective here is to obtain relevant feedback from the user community in order to qualify the accuracy and suitability of the ECV products and to define new way of improvements.

Project overview:

Main objectives:

  • To involve the Climate research community
  • To develop, test and select the best algorithms and standards
  • Assess and collect information on the quality and error characteristics
  • Provide a complete specification of the operational production system

The project team is comprised of 13 companies/institutes from over 7 countries and has been built to integrate expertise in the fields of Earth Observation and Climate Modelling.  ECMWF will validate the sea level ECV products by leading assimilation and comparison with our ocean climate model (WP5100). ECMWF is also involved in WP1000 for defining requirement and management.