Sea Level Rise

We’ve been observing sea level with satellites for 24 years now.


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20 responses to “Sea Level Rise

  1. Can’t…resist…urge…to chant:
    All sea level is local!
    All sea level is local!
    Different points on different coastlines will experience different levels of sea level rise due to a variety of factors. Maryland is getting a quadruple whammy:

    • Thanks for an illuminating link. It’s a great illustration of the kinds of discussions more juridictions should be having. The contribution of the Gulf Stream was a neat bit, too.

      • I find it fascinating the way SLR is way more complicated than a naive understanding would suggest (‘surely water just evens out’). With variable heating bulges and gravitational bulges and stream movements creating slopes. Turns out sea level is just as hard to measure on a global scale as temperature.

    • Susan Anderson

      Wow, that’s a great summary, full of useful perspective and broad-based knowledge.

  2. It’s interesting to watch the Western and Eastern Pacific alternate the ENSO and PDO surface bubble. One of the things I am most curious about is where OHC will be at the end of 2016. SLR updated 12/11/2016:

    • Yes. It certainly looked like sea level rise had something to do with El Nino and La Nina, but the relationship seemed oddly out of synch. SLR seems highest during El Nino spans when you’d think it would be lowest. Very confusing.

    • Jeffrey, the page that sea level chart comes from also has a link to a paper by some of the people who produce the graph, discussing ENSO and sea level.

      Scroll down a little here.

    • Jeffrey – I think the sloshing of Pacific water back and forth from East to West and back is approximately zero sum.

      Barry – the big events on the MEI graph appear to be the rebound from the volcano just before the satellite series begins; the 1997 through 2001 ENSO events; the 2010-2011; and the 2015-2016-whenever ENSO events.

      The sea height response appears to be almost instantaneous. The 2015 El Niño actually starts at the end of 2014, and the spike in GMSL started soon after. So what is doing that? The 2010-2011 La Niña dumped a huge amount of evaporated ocean water on the continents of Australia and South America. Possibly elsewhere as well. This caused a pronounced drop in sea level. So is the reverse what is happening with the big El Niño events… like the current EL Niño? Does a large amount of evaporated ocean water suddenly drop on the oceans instead of the continents, causing a large, but transitory, increase in GMSL? If so, when ENSO slides from El Niño to neutral, the rain must almost immediately revert to falling on land.

      I think this is the most recently updated graph, and it show the same downturn the MEI graph shows:

      ftp://podaac.jpl.nasa.gov/allData/merged_alt/L2/TP_J1_OSTM/global_mean_sea_level/GMSL_TPJAOS_V3.jpg

  3. I suppose it’s the drought especially in Amazon region: Less water on land, more in oceans.

  4. The data indicate that sea levels can fluctuate 10cm (or more) in a year. Is there enough water in the atmosphere to account for this rapid fluctuation? Can Greenland/Antarctica contribute/remove 10cm in a year? Can ocean expansion contribute 10cm in a year? How does science account for these rapid changes? How does the model account for both rising and falling sea levels.

    [Response: It doesn’t fluctuate that much in a year — not globally. More like 10 mm, not 10 cm.]

  5. realclimate, unforced variations Dec ’16, response #177 by Brian Dodge addresses my bigger question (show me the acceleration?!) and also partly addresses my question here.