Caspian Sea Level Change Observed by Satellite Altimetry

Jianli Chen, Anny Cazenave, Song Yun Wang, Jin Li

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


We analyze satellite altimeter observed Caspian Sea level (CSL) changes over the period January 1993 to December 2021 using the lake level series from the Hydroweb project and global sea level anomalies (SLA) grids provided by the Copernicus Marine Environment Monitoring Service (CMEMS). The two altimeter-based CSL series agree well at interannual and longer time scales, but show significantly large discrepancies at seasonal and shorter time scales. The large discrepancies are found to be introduced by the approximately inverted barometer (IB) correction applied to the CMEMS SLA over the Caspian Sea. The IB correction over the Caspian Sea or any enclosed lakes needs to be treated separately from the ocean by using the correct reference mean pressure. The actual IB effects over the Caspian Sea are significantly smaller than those applied in the CMEMS SLA grids. After applying an improved IB correction using the global mean sea level pressure fields from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) ERA5 reanalysis atmospheric model, the two CSL series agree remarkably well. Altimeter observed CSL series show a significant decreasing trend on top of strong seasonal variations. The estimated linear trends for the Hydroweb and CMEMS CSL series are −5.37 ± 0.11 and −5.40 ± 0.11 cm/yr, respectively. Annual amplitudes are 17.03 ± 1.33 vs. 15.79 ± 1.30 cm, with nearly the same phases. The CSL change shows notable acceleration in the decreasing trend since around 2005, and the estimated trends have increased to −8.86 ± 0.10 and −8.81 ± 0.10 cm/yr, respectively for the two-altimeter CSL series.

Original languageEnglish
Article number703
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2023


  • atmospheric pressure
  • caspian sea level
  • inverted barometer
  • satellite altimeter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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