The VANI2-ERA hindcast of sea-level residuals: atmospheric forcing of sea-level variability in the Mediterranean Sea (1958-2008)


  • Gabriel Jordà IMEDEA (UIB-CSIC), Departament d’Ecologia i Recursos Marins
  • Damià Gomis IMEDEA (UIB-CSIC), Departament d’Ecologia i Recursos Marins
  • Enrique Álvarez-Fanjul Puertos del Estado



sea level, Mediterranean, atmospheric forcing, hindcast


The hindcasts of residual sea surface are very useful tools for the design of infrastructures and coastal management applications, as well as for scientific studies on sea-level variability. In this paper we present VANI2-ERA, a new hindcast of residual sea surface covering the Mediterranean Sea and a sector of the NE Atlantic Ocean with a spatial resolution of 1/6°×1/4°. VANI2-ERA was obtained with a barotropic version of the HAMSOM model forced with a dynamical downscaling of the ERA40 reanalysis spanning the period 1958-2008. This new hindcast represents an update of the well-known HIPOCAS hindcast, which has been the reference dataset for the last few years. VANI2-ERA has been extensively validated with tide gauge observations distributed all around Southern Europe and compared with four other hindcasts, including HIPOCAS. The new hindcast shows smaller root mean square errors, higher correlation and higher variance reduction than any previous hindcasts at most stations. However, its performance is poorer than HIPOCAS in reproducing the magnitude of extreme events. Residual sea surface trends were also obtained and their uncertainty was assessed by means of a comparison between VANI2-ERA and HIPOCAS for the common period 1958-2001. Differences of up to 0.4±0.1 mm yr–1 between the two datasets are derived from the differences between the ERA40 and NCEP atmospheric reanalyses. The VANI2-ERA hindcast was also used to compare the variability of the period 1998-2008 with past decades, obtaining that the standard deviation of sea-level residuals has been 5-10% lower than for the period 1958-2008. The period 1998-2008 also shows a 20% reduction in the magnitude of positive extreme events, while negative extreme events have not changed significantly with respect to past decades. Finally, the trends computed for the period 1998-2008 are slightly positive (+0.11±0.04 mm yr–1) compared with the clearly negative trends obtained for the period 1958-2008.


Download data is not yet available.


Álvarez-Fanjul E., Pérez-Gómez B., Rodríguez-Sánchez-Arévalo I. 1997. A description of the tides in the eastern North Atlantic. Prog. Oceanogr. 40: 217-244.

Backhaus, J.O. 1983. A semi-implicit scheme for the shallow water equations for application to shelf sea modelling. Cont. Shelf Res. 2: 243-254.

Carrère L., Lyard F. 2003. Modelling the barotropic response of the global ocean to atmospheric wind and pressure forcing - comparisons with observations, Geophys. Res. Lett., 30: 1275.

Calafat F.M., Marcos M., Gomis D. 2010. Mass contribution to the Mediterranean Sea level variability for the period 1948-2000. Global Planet. Change 73: 193-201.

Calafat, F.M., Jordà G. 2011 A Mediterranean Sea Level reconstruction (1950-2010) with error budget estimates. Global Planet. Change 79: 118-133.

Cushman-Roisin B., Gacic M., Poulain P.-M., Artegiani A. (Eds.) 2001. Physical Oceanography of the Adriatic Sea. Springer, New York.

Déqué M., Piedelievre J. 1995. High resolution climate simulation over Europe, Clim. Dyn. 11: 321-339.

Déqué, M. 2007. Frequency of precipitation and temperature extremes over France in an anthropogenic scenario: Model results and statistical correction according to observed values. Global Planet. Change 57: 16-26

Fukumori I., Menemelis D., Lee T. 2007. A near-uniform basin-wide sea level fluctuation of the Mediterranean Sea. J. Phys. Oceanogr. 37: 338-358.

Garrett C. J. R. 1983. Variable sea level and strait flows in the Mediterranean:A theoretical study of the response to meteorological forcing. Oceanol. Acta. 6: 79-87.

Garrett C. J. R., Majaess F. 1984. Nonisostatic response of sea level to atmospheric pressure in the eastern Mediterranean, J. Phys. Oceanogr. 14: 656-665.<0656:NROSLT>2.0.CO;2

Gibson, J., Kållberg P., Uppala S., Hernandez A. and Serano E. 1997. ERA description, in Re-anal, Proj. Rep. Ser., European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecast, Reading, U. K.

Gomis D., Tsimplis M.N., Martín-Míguez B., Ratsimandresy A.W., García-Lafuente J., Josey S.A. 2006. Mediterranean Sea level and barotropic flow through the Strait of Gibraltar for the period 1958–2001 and reconstructed since 1659. J. Geophys. Res. 111: C11005.

Gomis D., Ruiz S., Sotillo M. G., Álvarez-Fanjul E., Terradas J. 2008. Low frequency Mediterranean sea level variability: the contribution of atmospheric pressure and wind. Global Planet. Change 63: 215-229.

Herrmann M. J., Somot S. 2008. Relevance of ERA40 dynamical downscaling for modeling deep convection in the Mediterranean Sea, Geophys. Res. Lett 35: L04607.

Hurrell, J.W., Deser C. 2009. North Atlantic climate variability: The role of the North Atlantic Oscillation. J. Mar. Syst. 78: 28-41,

Jordà. G., Gomis D., Álvarez-Fanjul E., Somot. S. 2012. Atmospheric contribution to Mediterranean and nearby Atlantic sea level variability under different climate change scenarios. Global Planet. Change 80-81: 198-214.

Marcos M., Tsimplis M.N. 2007. Variations of the seasonal sea level cycle in Southern Europe. J. Geophys. Res. 112: C12011.

Marcos M, Tsimplis M. N. (2007). Forcing of coastal sea level rise patterns in the North Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea. Geophys. Res. Lett 34: L18604.

Marcos M., Tsimplis M.N., Shaw A.G.P. 2009. Sea level extremes in southern Europe, J. Geophys. Res. 114: C01007.

Marcos M., Jordà G., Gomis D., Pérez B. 2011. Changes in storm surges in southern Europe during the 21st century. Global Planet. Change 77: 116-128.

Nicholls R.J., Leatherman S.P.1994. Global sea-level rise. In: Strzepek, K., Smith, J.B. (eds.), Climate Changes: Potential Impacts and Implications. Cambridge Univ. Press.

Pascual A., Marcos M., Gomis D. 2008. Comparing the sea level response to pressure and wind forcing of two barotropic models: Validation with tide gauge and altimetry data, J. Geophys. Res., 113: C07011.

Pawlowicz R., Beardsley B., Lentz S. 2002. Classical Tidal ''Harmonic Analysis Including Error Estimates in MATLAB using T_TIDE''.Comput. Geosci. 28: 929-937.

Ratsimandresy A.W., Sotillo M.G., Carretero J.C., Álvarez-Fanjul E., Pérez Gómez B., Hajji H. 2008. A 44-year (1958–2001) sea level residual hindcast over the Mediterranean Basin. Phys. Chem. Earth 33: 250-259.

Simmons A., Gibson J. 2000. The ERA-40 project plan, ERA-40 project report series, Tech. Rep. 1, ECMWF, Shinfield Park, Reading, UK, 63 pp.

Sotillo M.G., Ratsimandresy A.W., Carretero J.C., Bentamy A., Valero F., González-Rouco F. 2005. A high-resolution 44-year atmospheric hindcast for the Mediterranean Basin: contribution to the regional improvement of global reanalysis. Clim. Dynam. 25: 219-236.

Tsimplis M.N., Alvarez-Fanjul E., Gomis D., Fenoglio-Marc L., Perez B. 2005. Mediterranean Sea level trends: atmospheric pressure and wind contribution, Geophys. Res. Lett., 32: L20602.

Tsimplis M.N., Zervakis V., Josey S., Peneva E., Struglia M.V., Stanev E., Lionello P., Malanotte-Rizzoli P., Artale V., Theocharis A., Tragou E., Oguz T. 2006. Changes in the oceanography of the Mediterranean Sea and their link to climate variability. In: Lionello, P., Malanotte-Rizzoli, P., Boscolo, R. (eds.), Mediterranean Climate Variability. Elsevier. ISBN: 0-444-52170-4, p. 438.

Tsimplis M., Marcos M., Colin J., Somot S., Pascual A., Shaw A.G.P. 2009. Sea level variability in the Mediterranean Sea during the 1990s on the basis to two 2d and one 3d model. J. Mar. Sys., 78: 109-123.

Wakelin S.L., Woodworth P.L., Flather R.A., Williams J.A. 2003. Sea-level dependence on the NAO over the NW European continental shelf. Geophys. Res. Lett. 30: 1403.

Woolf D., Shaw A., Tsimplis M. 2003. The influence of the North Atlantic oscillation on sea level variability in the North Atlantic region. Global Atmos. Ocean Syst. 9: 145-167.

Yan Z., Tsimplis M.N., Woolf D. 2004. An analysis of relationship between the North Atlantic oscillation and sea level changes in NW Europe. Int. J. Climatol. 24: 743-758.




How to Cite

Jordà G, Gomis D, Álvarez-Fanjul E. The VANI2-ERA hindcast of sea-level residuals: atmospheric forcing of sea-level variability in the Mediterranean Sea (1958-2008). scimar [Internet]. 2012Sep.30 [cited 2023Dec.3];76(S1):133-46. Available from:




Most read articles by the same author(s)