Sea-Level, Ocean Heating, and El Niño
I have mentioned several times the correlation between sea-level and changes in temperature and thickness of the upper layer. Basically, as the temperature and thickness of the upper layer increases, the sea-level will increase. How well does the sea-level follow temperature changes in ocean? In the tropical Pacific, the answer is: very well. One can see this by comparing T/P data to data obtained from the TAO moored buoys in the Pacific. The buoys measure only temperature at various depths, and these can be converted to density and then sea-level due to heating variations only. The agreement is very good, as seen in the figures below. There is more disagreement in the western Pacific than in the east, due to factors other than heating that effect the T/P sea-level measurement in this region.
Averaged at TAO Buoys in Eastern Pacific
(5°S to 5°N, 260°E - 290°E)
Standard Deviation of Differences = 2.8 cm
Averaged at TAO Buoys in Western Pacific
(5°S to 5°N, 150°E - 175°E)
Standard Deviation of Differences = 3.8 cm