Science

New research reveals that sea levels could rise 1.5 inches every year

New research reveals that sea levels could rise 1.5 inches every year

Melting ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica are accelerating the pace of sea level rise, according to new satellite research.

The research was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. He further said that their estimations are certainly conservative.

Professor Nerem said analysis of tidal gauge records and decadal changes in satellite data in the past had indicated global mean sea level rise was accelerating, but it had been hard to pin down a number.

"We are already seeing signs of ice sheet instability in Greenland and Antarctica, so if they experience rapid changes, then we would likely see more than 65 centimeters of sea level rise by 2100".

However, prevailing conditions such as global warming, greenhouse gases emission, and melting ice sheets can cause the sea level rise to increase at faster rate. The changes are evident and many, including International Panel on Climate Change, have predicted that global levels will rise to 20 inches or more by the end this century. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, manages the USA portion of these missions for NASA's Science Mission Directorate.

"The Topex/Poseidon/Jason altimetry missions have been essentially providing the equivalent of a global network of almost half a million accurate tide gauges, providing sea surface height information every 10 days for over 25 years", said Brian Beckley, of NASA Goddard, second author on the new paper and lead of a team that processes altimetry observations into a global sea level data record. New satellite research shows that global warming is making seas rise at an ever increasing rate.

Nerem and his team took into account natural changes in sea level thanks to cycles such as El Niño/La Niña and even events such as the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo, which altered sea levels worldwide for several years. In addition, global sea level can fluctuate due to climate patterns such as El Niños and La Niñas (the opposing phases of the El Niño Southern Oscillation, or ENSO) which influence ocean temperature and global precipitation patterns.




If the oceans continue to change at this pace, sea levels will rise by 65cm (two feet) by the end of the century. They also used so-called tide gauge data to assess potential errors in the measurements.

Sea level rise has two factors: the first one is year-to-year small rises and the second is falls and long-term rising.

By what is presumably a complete coincidence, the funding for the NASA satellites that provide this data is now in danger of being axed as part of the government's current crack-down on various scientific projects.

In order to quantify this change, Nerem and his colleagues used data from satellite altimeter measurements starting in 1992, including the U.S./European TOPEX/Poseidon, Jason-1, Jason-2, and Jason-3 satellite missions.

Oceans also rise with the increasing flow of water due to rapidly melting ice at the poles.

Melting ice in Greenland and Antarctica is largely responsible for the trend, experts say, described by the team as a "game changer" in the climate change debate.


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