By steven d keeler | Sep 01, 2013
For decadal and longer time scales, global mean sea level change results from two major processes that alter the total volume of the ocean. Changes in the total heat content and salinity produce density (steric) changes. The exchange of water between the oceans and other reservoirs (glaciers, ice caps, and ice sheets, and other land water reservoirs) results in mass variations. With sufficient observations of sea level, ocean temperatures and salinity, and either land reservoirs or ocean mass, the total budget of global mean sea level can in principle be closed.
Epressed in terms of globally averaged height, contributions to the total budget of global mean sea level ( SL ) are:
SL total = SL steric + SL mass
where SL total is total sea level
SL steric is the steric component of sea level and SL mass is the ocean mass component.