08 Aug 2022
08 Aug 2022
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Revisiting the global mean ocean mass budget over 2005–2020

Anne Barnoud1, Julia Pfeffer1, Anny Cazenave1,2, and Michaël Ablain1 Anne Barnoud et al.
  • 1Magellium, 31520 Ramonville-Saint-Agne, France
  • 2LEGOS, Toulouse, France

Abstract. We investigate the continuity and stability of GRACE and GRACE Follow-On satellite gravimetric missions by assessing the ocean mass budget at global scale over 2005–2020, focusing on the last years of the record (2015–2020) when GRACE and GRACE Follow-On faced instrumental problems. For that purpose, we compare the global mean ocean mass estimates from GRACE and GRACE Follow-On to the sum of its contributions from Greenland, Antarctica, land glaciers and terrestrial water storage estimated with independent observations. A significant residual trend of -1.60 ± 0.36 mm/yr over 2015–2018 is observed. We also compare the gravimetry-based global mean ocean mass with the altimetry-based global mean sea level corrected for the thermosteric contribution. We estimate and correct for the drift of the wet tropospheric correction of the Jason-3 altimetry mission computed from the on-board radiometer. It accounts for about 40 % of the budget residual trend beyond 2015. After correction, the remaining residual trend amounts to -0.90 ± 0.78 mm/yr over 2015–2018 and -0.96 ± 0.48 mm/yr over 2015–2020. GRACE and GRACE Follow-On data might be responsible for part of the observed non-closure of the ocean mass budgets since 2015. However, we show that significant interannual variability is not well accounted for by the data used for the other components of the budget, including the thermosteric sea level and the terrestrial water storage. Besides, missing contributions from the evolution of the deep ocean or the atmospheric water vapour may also contribute.

Anne Barnoud et al.

Status: open (until 11 Oct 2022)

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Anne Barnoud et al.


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Short summary
The increase in ocean mass due to land ice melting is responsible for about two thirds of the global mean sea level rise. The ocean mass variations are monitored by GRACE and GRACE Follow-On gravimetry satellites that faced instrumental issues over the last few years. In this work, we assess the robustness of these data by comparing the ocean mass gravimetry estimates to independent observations (other satellite observations, oceanographic measurements and land ice and water models).