THE CEOS DATABASE : Missions, Instruments and Measurements
DomainOceanicDescriptionChanges in local sea level are important to coastal communities. These changes can have large impacts on infrastructure and coastal resilience on the time scales from those of tsunamis and storm surges, through the interannual to decadal scales of variability in ocean circulation, out to centuries from sea-level rise in a warming climate. Subsidence of the land may in places have as large an impact as rising seas. For many communities the record of extreme sea-level events is insufficient to assess risk to infrastructure, in part because of inconsistent tide-gauge locations and large uncertainty about changes in the elevation of the land. [GCOS-195 5.3.3]
Full NameSea level
Satellite Signficant ContributionYes
GCOS Actions
DescriptionWhoTime FramePerformance IndicatorCost Implications
Ensure continuous coverage from one higher-precision, medium-inclination altimeter and two medium-precision, higher-inclination altimeters.Space agencies, with coordination through the CEOS Constellation for Ocean Surface Topography, CGMS, and the WMO Space Programme.ContinuousSatellites operating, and provision of data to analysis centres.30-100M US$ (Mainly by Annex-I Parties).
*GCOS-195 Status Categories: Category A: Action completed, perhaps exceeding reasonable expectations. Very good progress on ongoing tasks. Category B: Action largely completed according to expectation. Good progress on ongoing tasks. Category C: Moderate progress overall, although progress may be good for some part of the action. Category D: Limited progress overall, although progress may be moderate or good for some part of the action. Category E: Very little or no progress, or deterioration rather than progress.
GCOS Products
Related Measurements/
from CEOS DB
O.3Sea level global mean and regional variabilityGlobal mean sea level
Regional Sea Level
Sea level
CEOS Response[O10 (O.3)]

2015 Update: The major achievements realised by the Sea_Level CCI project consist of:
  1. improved and homogeneous reprocessing of altimetry data from ERS-1, ERS-2, Envisat, TOPEX/Poseidon, Jason-1, Jason-2, GeoSat and GFO (plus additional data from CryoSat, Altika, Sentinel-3 and Jason-3, the two former in preparation, the two latter depending on launch date) based on new orbit solutions, improved wet tropospheric corrections and tidal corrections, etc., with the goal to provide an accurate 23-year long (1993-2015) sea level record (FCDR and the ECVs global mean and gridded sea level time series),
  2. production of formal errors for all the products, with a comprehensive error characteristic analysis.
  3. investigation of specific technical issues, such as Arctic sea-level during sea-ice minima, coastal sea-level change, etc.
By combining the Sea Level_CCI products with other CCI ECVs (glaciers, ice sheets, sea surface temperature, etc.), improved sea level budget studies have been performed at global and regional scales, allowing estimates of unknown -or poorly known- contributions (e.g., the deep ocean heat uptake and its role in the current ‘hiatus’ or the land water storage change due to human activities). Products were developed in the framework of the Ocean Surface Topography Science Team (OSTST) and the Global Sea Level Observing System (GLOSS).


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