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  1. Abstract

    Recent sea surface height (SSH) trends in the South Pacific are substantially greater than trends in the North Pacific. Here, we use the Estimating the Climate and Circulation of the Ocean Version 4 Release 4 ocean state estimate and the Ocean Reanalysis System 5 to identify the forcing and mechanisms underlying that meridional asymmetry during 2005–2015. Thermosteric contributions dominate the spatial structure in Pacific SSH trends, but contributions from local surface heat fluxes are small. Wind stress trends drive a spin‐up of the South Pacific subtropical gyre and a northward shift of the North Pacific subtropical gyre. A reduced gravity model forced with reanalysis winds qualitatively reproduces the meridional seesaw in sea level, suggesting that asymmetric trends in subtropical wind stress drive a cross‐equatorial heat transport. A reversal in forcing associated with this process could impact near‐term rates of coastal sea‐level change, particularly in Pacific Island communities.

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  2. Abstract

    The advances in the modern sea level observing system have allowed for a new level of knowledge of regional and global sea level in recent years. The combination of data from satellite altimeters, Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites, and Argo profiling floats has provided a clearer picture of the different contributors to sea level change, leading to an improved understanding of how sea level has changed in the present and, by extension, may change in the future. As the overlap between these records has recently extended past a decade in length, it is worth examining the extent to which internal variability on timescales from intraseasonal to decadal can be separated from long‐term trends that may be expected to continue into the future. To do so, a combined modal decomposition based on cyclostationary empirical orthogonal functions is performed simultaneously on the three data sets, and the dominant shared modes of variability are analyzed. Modes associated with the trend, seasonal signal, El Niño–Southern Oscillation, and Pacific decadal oscillation are extracted and discussed, and the relationship between regional patterns of sea level change and their associated global signature is highlighted.

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