The Effect of the 18.6-Year Lunar Nodal Cycle on Regional Sea-Level Rise Estimates

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Abstract

Sea-level rise rates have become important drivers for policy makers dealing with the long-term protection of coastal populations. Scenario studies suggest that an acceleration in sea-level rise is imminent. The anticipated acceleration is hard to detect because of spatial and temporal variability, which consequently, have become important research topics. A known decadal-scale variation is the 18.6-year nodal cycle. Here, we show how failing to account for the nodal cycle resulted in an overestimation of Dutch sea-level rise. The nodal cycle is present across the globe with a varying phase and a median amplitude of 2.2 cm. Accounting for the nodal cycle increases the probability of detecting acceleration in the rate of sea-level rise. In an analysis of the Dutch coast, however, still no significant acceleration was found. The nodal cycle causes sea level to drop or to rise at an increased rate; therefore, accounting for it is crucial to accurately estimate regional sea-level rise.

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