The Rate of Sea-Level Rise

The Rate of Sea-Level Rise

Like This Video 457 Chris Machens
Added by March 24, 2014
 

A new study paper out in nature (Nature Climate Change /  / doi:10.1038/nclimate2159), explores why the rise of sea-level has slowed in the last decade. Unsurprisingly the slow-down coincidences with the observed climate hiatus (IPCC AR5, Ocean heat content uptake). Because  heat is distributed differently, depending on the state of ENSO (between El Nino or La Nina).

a, GMSL trends computed over two time spans (January 1994‚ÄďDecember 2002 and January 2003‚ÄďDecember 2011) using satellite altimetry data from five processing groups (see Methods for data sources).

a, GMSL trends computed over two time spans (January 1994‚ÄďDecember 2002 and January 2003‚ÄďDecember 2011) using satellite altimetry data from five processing groups (see Methods for data sources).

Abstract:¬†Present-day sea-level rise is a major indicator of climate change1. Since the early 1990s, sea level rose at a mean rate of¬†~3.1 mm yr‚ąí1¬†(refs¬†2,¬†3). However, over the last decade a slowdown of this rate, of about 30%, has been recorded4,¬†5,¬†6,¬†7,¬†8. It coincides with a plateau in Earth‚Äôs mean surface temperature evolution, known as the recent pause in warming1,¬†9,¬†10,¬†11,¬†12. Here we present an analysis based on sea-level data from the altimetry record of the past¬†~20 years that separates interannual natural variability in sea level from the longer-term change probably related to anthropogenic global warming. The most prominent signature in the global mean sea level interannual variability is caused by El Ni√Īo‚ÄďSouthern Oscillation, through its impact on the global water cycle13,¬†14,¬†15,¬†16. We find that when correcting for interannual variability, the past decade‚Äôs slowdown of the global mean sea level disappears, leading to a similar rate of sea-level rise (of 3.3¬†¬Ī¬†0.4 mm yr‚ąí1) during the first and second decade of the altimetry era. Our results confirm the need for quantifying and further removing from the climate records the short-term natural climate variability if one wants to extract the global warming signal10.

However, last year a study hinted at significant future sea-level rise – In Ancient Ice, Clues That Scientists Are Underestimating Future Sea Levels

Related 
RealClimate: It Never Rains but it Pause
RealClimate: Global Temperature 2013
Slower sea level rise linked to El Nino and natural weather patterns
Cutting Short-lived Pollutants Can Slow Sea Level Rise
Australia’s Flooding Rains Briefly Slowed Sea Level Rise

Teaser image via Ocean Defender

 

Write a Comment

Loading..