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Tide gauges measure local sea level, the difference between sea surface height (SSH) and the height of the land. If the sea surface gets higher — what we usually think of as “sea level rise” — local sea level won’t necessarily go up because the land itself might also be getting higher. Although tide gauges are generally fixed to solid rock (the more solid the better), the land itself can still move up or down, a process called vertical land movement (VLM).