Contributions of Altimetry and Argo to Non-Closure of the Global Mean Sea Level Budget Since 2016

Anne Barnoud, Julia Pfeffer, Adrien Guérou, Marie Laure Frery, Mathilde Siméon, Anny Cazenave, Jianli Chen, William Llovel, Virginie Thierry, Jean François Legeais, Michaël Ablain

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Over 1993–2016, studies have shown that the observed global mean sea level (GMSL) budget is closed within the current data uncertainties. However, non-closure of the budget was recently reported when using Jason-3, Argo and GRACE/GRACE Follow-On data after 2016. This non-closure may result from errors in the data sets used to estimate the GMSL and its components. Here, we investigate possible sources of errors affecting Jason-3 and Argo data. Comparisons of Jason-3 GMSL trends with other altimetry missions show good agreement within 0.4 mm/yr over 2016–present. Besides, the wet tropospheric correction uncertainty from the Jason-3 radiometer contributes to up to 0.2 mm/yr. Therefore, altimetry alone cannot explain the misfit in the GMSL budget observed after 2016. Argo-based salinity products display strong discrepancies since 2016, attributed to instrumental problems and data editing issues. Reassessment of the sea level budget with the thermosteric component provides about 40% improvement in the budget closure.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2021GL092824
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Argo
  • satellite altimetry
  • sea level
  • sea level budget

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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