Mean sea level and tidal change in Ireland since 1842: a case study of Cork

Pugh, David T.; Bridge, Edmund; Edwards, Robin; Hogarth, Peter; Westbrook, Guy; Woodworth, Philip L. ORCID:; McCarthy, Gerard D.. 2021 Mean sea level and tidal change in Ireland since 1842: a case study of Cork. Ocean Science, 17 (6). 1623-1637.

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Knowledge of regional changes in mean sea level and local changes in tides are crucial to inform effective climate adaptation. An essential element is the availability of accurate observations of sea level. Sea level data in the Republic of Ireland, prior to the establishment of the National Tide Gauge Network in the mid-2000s, are limited but belie a wealth of historical data available in archival form. In this study, we digitize records located in Cork Harbour, Ireland, from 1842 and show how short-duration (6–8 weeks), high-quality data with a large interval to the present can accurately inform tidal and mean sea level changes. We consider error sources in detail. We estimate for the main M2 tidal constituent that the accuracy of these historical measurements is 1 % and 2 min for amplitude and phase, respectively, once adjustments for seasonal and nodal effects are made. Our mean sea level estimates are accurate to the 2 cm level, once adjustments for atmospheric and seasonal effects are made. Our results show tidal stability with a 2 % change in the amplitude of the M2 component, 4 min change in the phase over a period of 177 years, and mean sea level rise of 40 cm in the Cork Harbour area from 1842 to 2019, approximately in line with global mean sea level trends plus local glacial isostatic adjustment. More broadly, we show that with careful seasonal, nodal, and atmospheric corrections, together with knowledge of benchmark provenance, these historic, survey-oriented data can accurately inform of sea level changes.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 1812-0792
Date made live: 11 Nov 2021 22:11 +0 (UTC)

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