Pacific Sea Level Monitoring Project

An introduction to this project can be found on the Pacific Sea Level Monitoring Project (PSLMP) website.

A significant new component of the project in Phase III, which began in 2001, is the GPS geodetic component, undertaken by Geoscience Australia.

Need for the Geodetic component for absolute sea level monitoring

Research by Church and White (2011) on historical tide-gauge data and satellite-altimeter data shows that between 1880 and 2009, the global averaged sea level rose about 21 cm, with an average rate of rise of about 1.6 mm/year over the 20th Century. The sea level record also indicates a statistically significant increase in the annual rate of rise of sea level throughout the period 1880 to 2009. However, there is large variability in the rates of change of sea level indicated by different tide gauges, or groups of tide gauges spanning particular regions. These differences are considered to be largely caused by vertical land motion resulting from phenomena such as glacial rebound, tectono-physics, subsurface fluid withdrawal and sediment consolidation.

In order to decipher the signals observed by a network of tide gauges from vertical crustal movement so that absolute sea level changes can be monitored, it is necessary to link the absolute positions (heights) of the land measured by Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) and high precision terrestrial levelling to the relative measurements of the tide gauges.

Measurements of vertical crustal movement together with the establishment of benchmark tide gauges in this global geocentric reference frame will satisfy some fundamental aims. It will lead to the establishment of a world vertical datum, by providing the means to accurately connect national, continental and international vertical datums. This will provide the means to estimate past and current rates of change in global mean sea level.

In view of the current debate that sea level changes may be related to global warming as pollution intensifies the greenhouse effect, these measurements will lead to a better understanding of the causes that may accelerate this change in mean sea level. Since changes in sea level average about 1-3mm per annum, any vertical motion of the crust must be monitored at this level of accuracy, and within short time spans of five to ten years.

In addition, the geodetic component for monitoring absolute sea level changes requires a local network of benchmarks and reference marks that are re-surveyed regularly by Terrestrial Methods or Global Positioning Systems (GPS). Reference Mark Monitoring Report

The geodetic component comprises a Continuous Global Positioning System (CGPS) network which will provide long term height time series.

The CGPS geodetic outputs for the SPSLCMP are:

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