Global warming accelerating sea level rise, new research shows

Mel Evans | AP | BDN

Steve Nerem, a professor of aerospace engineering sciences at the University of Colorado-Boulder and lead author on the paper, described the phenomena as akin to a "driver merging onto a highway", in a press release accompanying the paper.

If this is not checked, the trend could mean the seas would rise by at least 10 mm per year by the end of the century, which would wreak much havoc on the world's coastal cities. The findings, published Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, confirm what climate projections have already told us.

"And this is nearly certainly a conservative estimate", he added. Our extrapolation assumes that sea level continues to change in the future as it has over the last 25 years. Their analysis, which took into account cyclical changes in the ocean's temperatures and measurement uncertainty, found that the chance that sea level rise is not accelerating is less than one percent.

Extreme water levels, such as high tides and surges from strong storms, would be made exponentially worse as climate change plays its consequential tricks. Second is the melting of ice at poles that adds more and more water to the seas.

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These increases were measured using satellite altimeter measurements since 1992, including the U.S./European TOPEX/Poseidon, Jason-1, Jason-2, and Jason-3 satellite missions. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, manages the US portion of these missions for NASA's Science Mission Directorate.

Sea levels might be rising two times faster than we thought, a new study suggests.

"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.

"The acceleration predicted by the models has now been detected directly from the observations", Mitchum said. Over this short time period, the rate of sea level rise waxed and wane and it was hard to tease out whether its pace was steady or picking up. 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. Nerem said: "The big question in sea level science today is how are the ice sheets going to respond to the warming, and how quickly". Satellite data revealed that the acceleration stems from melting ice in Greenland and Antarctica.

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Normally, tide-guage data is used to measure sea levels, but this time, satellite data was used to measure sea levels allowing more precise estimates of global sea levels.

The warming of oceans and the melting of ice sheet and glaciers, particularly in Antarctica and Greenland, have contributed to the hastening sea level rise.

A section of ice sheet is seen from NASA's Operation IceBridge research aircraft along the Upper Baffin Bay coast on March 27, 2017, above Greenland.

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