South Pacific Sea Level 2016

The latest monthly data (to November 2016) from the South Pacific Sea Level and Climate Monitoring Project has just been published. I'll be replacing charts with updates as I process them

The high resolution SEAFRAME (Sea Level Fine Resolution Acoustic Measuring Equipment) monitoring stations comprise modern integrated housings which measure and record sea level, barometric pressure, water temperature and air temperature. Most of the stations were installed in 1992 and 1993, though a few were later. It's important to note that the effect of local land movement is eliminated from sea level data:
The Continuous Global Positioning System (CGPS) network monitors vertical movement in the earth's crust, such as subsidence or tectonic shifts, at the SEAFRAME tide gauges and adjacent land. Sea level data can then be adjusted to compensate for the earth's movement to within a millimeter, enabling the absolute sea level to be determined. 
I have voiced criticism of Australia's Bureau of Meteorology on various topics in the past, but as far as the presentation of sea level data is concerned, I rate their National Tidal Centre as the best. The page I linked to above has a table of the 12 stations in the project (and the two others I mentioned) which links to PDF plots and data tables for sea level, barometric pressure, water temperature and air temperature. The data tables in turn link to online graphical plots and text files for easy import to spreadsheets. A map links directly to the data tables. I liked that Idea so much I've pinched it for use here.

What should be evident from the plots is that any generalisation of the situation over this wide area is invalid. Apart from an almost universal downward spike during the 1997/98 ENSO event, the history and trends differ widely. It should also be clear that claims of "25 mm/year" or "no rise" since the early 1990s are also invalid.

Most of the charts are dominated by a downward "spike" in 1997/98. The level drop was due to unusually high barometric pressure during the 1997/98 ENSO ("El Niño/La Niña-Southern Oscillation") event. The correlation is well illustrated for the Marshall Islands (Majuro Atoll), so I've placed this first. Kiribati and Tuvalu have been given much attention in the news media and on the 'net recently, so they're listed next.

I hope you like the new format, I've added 13-month moving averages (in red) for many charts to give a better picture of what's "going on". Readers are welcome to reproduce any of the charts - all I ask is that attribution be given, preferably with a link to this page. I haven't used thumbnails, Excel GIFs are quite small - right-click on the image and select "save image as" or whatever your browser prompts.

Level data has been converted from metres to millimetres to overcome loss of precision in Excel's trend calculation. Gaps in the plots indicate gaps in the original data. Note that the trend slope is monthly - multiply by 12 to get the annual value (e.g. y = 0.2269x gives 2.7228 mm/year).

Click on a location (red dot) on the map to view a graph of the monthly sea level statistics for that station. Click on the bottom of the blue area for the NZ station, Click on your browser's back button to return to the map, or click on the [Back to the map] link at the end of each section.

Click on a red dot to jump to the relevant sea level graph
Source: Bureau of Meteorology     

Marshall Islands

Island: Majura   Location: Uliga

Note the 1997/98 ENSO "spike" and the correspondence with the abnormally high atmospheric pressure from late 1997 to late 1998 shown in the barometric pressure plot below:
[Back to the map]


Island: Tarawa   Location: Betio

The trend line is pulled down by the ENSO dip from the end of 1997 to end 1998, resulting in a trend of 2.7 mm/year. To give an better view of the trend from 1992 to present, I replotted the chart with that data excluded:
The resulting trend is just 1.14 mm/year.
A downward trend is evident from end 2001 to present:
[Back to the map]


Atoll:Funafuti Island: Fongafale

As with Kiribati, the deep ENSO dip in 1997/98 pulls the trend line down on the left; it's below the 1994/1997 average. A zero trend is evident from 1999 to present:
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Papua New Guinea

Island: Manus   Location: Lombrum

Here's a clearer view of the 1999-2011 trend of 3.4 mm/year, slightly above the global average:
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Solomon Islands

Island: Guadalcanal   Location: Honiara

Again the trend is pulled down on the left; the average level 1999 to present is around 750 mm, and the trend 2.1 mm/year.

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Island: Efate   Location: Port Vila

The big 1997/98 downward spike evident in most of the other plots is absent; instead there's a relatively steady upward trend.
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Island: Viti Levu   Location: Lautoka

Island: Viti Levu   Location: Suva

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Island: Tongatapu   Location: Nuku'alofa

Although there's a steep trend from 1993, current levels are not dissimilar to those between 2000 and 2003.
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Cook Islands

Island: Rarotonga   Location: Avatiu

Levels seem to have stabilised from 2006.
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Island: Upolu   Location: Apia

The familiar ENSO dip pulls the trend down at the LHS, but there is a sharp upward "spike" from 2010.
[Back to the map]


Island: Nauru   Location: Aiwo

Overall trend is effectively flat - levels at present similar to those in 1993. However, the trend from 2002 is downward.

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Federated States of Micronesia

Island: Pohnpei   Location: Dekehtik

An overall upward trend, though little change from 2007 to present.
[Back to the map]