Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research
Royal Netherlands
Institute for Sea Research
Phone number
+31 (0)113 577 456
PhD student
TU Delft
Bert Vermeersen
  • Global & regional sea-level change
  • Quantification of the causes of sea-level change
  • Physical oceanography

Video abstract

Video abstract for the paper Camargo, C. M. L., Riva, R. E. M.,Hermans, T. H. J., & Slangen, A. B. A.(2020). Exploring sources of uncertainty in steric sea-level change estimates Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans

Carolina Machado Lima de Camargo

PhD student

Research Interests

Sea Level

I started working with sea level since my bachelors, when I worked with geophysics (sub-bottom profiler of 3.5 kHz) to find evidence of past coastlines, when sea-level was lower than the present line, in the continental shelf of the south of Brazil. For my master thesis I worked with the quality control of in-situ sea level measurements from tide gauges, under the supervision of Francisco Hernandez (VLIZ) and Dr. Karline Soetaert (NIOZ).

Now, for my PhD, I am studying the regional sea-level budget in the satellite era (1993-present). Sea level has been rising in the last century, however there is still a difference between the total observed sea-level rise and the sum of the different contributions. The reason why we are not able to explain the regional sea-level variations can be due to uncertainties in the reconstructions of past sea-level change. In this research, we aim to get a better understating of the sea-level change and its contributing processes by using satellite data.

Sea-level Budget

The sea-level budget comprises the sum of all contributors to mean sea level. These can be divided into mass change and steric variations.While the latter comprises all effects that change the density of the oceans, such as thermal expansion and variations in salinity; the former represents all the contributions to changes in ocean mass, such as melting of glaciers and ice sheets, and variations in land water storage. When the differences between the observed rate of sea level and the sum of all known contributors can be resolved, the sea-level budget is considered closed.

The global sea-level budget  has been investigated in several studies over the last years. In average, observed global mean sea level is about 3.1 mm/y from 1993 to 2018, which can be broken-down in 42% for ocean thermal expansion, 21% for glaciers, 15% from Greenland Ice Sheet and 8% from Antarctica Ice Sheet, and a remaining inexplicable of 14% (Cazenave et al. 2018). Although the global SLB can be considered closed for the altimetry era, the regional SLB still remains open. Sea level does not rise spatially uniform across the globe. On the contrary, it displays regional patterns of variability. These variations from the global mean can be large, ranging from 0.6 to 14.7mm/y over 2002 to 2014 (Rietbroek et al., 2016). Ocean dynamics, land ice mass changes and associated gravitational effects, and vertical land movement are some of the local processes responsible for causing these regional differences. Understanding the contribution of each of these processes to regional sea-level change is critical to improve future projections, and better prepare to the impacts of climate change. 

The challenge rests in uncertainties of reconstructions from past sea levels and in obtaining the individual contributions of all components. My PhD project focus on closing the regional sea-level budget in the satellite era on a regional scale and consistently for the entire ocean. There is a large amount of observational data for this period (e.g. satellite altimetry, Argo, GRACE, ...), thus it is the ideal starting point for obtaining a more refined reconstruction of the sea-level change and its contributors in the last 25 years. The second objective of this project is to use the budget as a tool to answer research questions about the processes contributing to sea-level change, such as: What is the impact of internal climate variability on landwater storage and associated changes in regional sea level? What are the hot-spots of the different contributions to regional sea-level change? Addressing these questions may have an impact on strategies of mitigation of and adaptation to future sea-level rise. 


Besides the sea level research, I’m also interested in physical and geophysical oceanography. I have done internships at Rockland Scientific (RSI) and at the Oceanic Observatory of Madeira (OOM), where I had the opportunity to work with oceanic microturbulence.

In addition, I really like to work with oceanographic cruises. I have already participated in campaigns on the RRV James Cook (POGO Shipboard training), B/O SOCIB, NRP Gago Coutinho and NOc. Atlantico Sul, summing up 2244 hours at sea. Through the campaigns I worked mainly in collecting physical oceanography data (CTD, uCTD, VMP), but also geophysical surveys (3.5kHz sub-bottom profiler, side-scan sonar) and benthic sampling of the deep-sea.

About me

I got a bachelor’s degree in Oceanology from the Federal University of Rio Grande (FURG) in Brazil, and a master’s degree in Marine and Lacustrine Science and Management, a Belgian inter-university programme organized by the Vrije Universiteit Brussels (VUB), Universiteit Antwerpen (UAntwerpen) and Universiteit Gent (UGent). For my masters I had a training fellowship from ISA and GSR. I started my PhD At NIOZ in January of 2019, as part of the Sea Level Research Centre. 

Linked news

Wednesday 14 October 2020
Exploring Sources of Uncertainty in Steric Sea‐Level Change Estimates
Ocean temperature and salinity variations lead to changes in sea level, known as steric sea‐level change. Steric variations are important contributors to sea‐level change and reflect how the oceans have been responding to global warming. For this…