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New study finds sea level rose 2.4 mm/year between 2005 and 2011

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Posted June 3, 2013
Global mean sea level (GMSL) change. a, GMSL change observed by the TOPEX/Poseidon and Jason-1/2 satellite altimeters during the period 1993–2012. b, The same as in a, but for the most recent 7-year period (January 2005–December 2011). Credit: (c) NPG, Nature Geoscience (2013) doi:10.1038/ngeo1829

Global mean sea level (GMSL) change. a, GMSL change observed by the TOPEX/Poseidon and Jason-1/2 satellite altimeters during the period 1993–2012. b, The same as in a, but for the most recent 7-year period (January 2005–December 2011). Credit: (c) NPG, Nature Geoscience (2013) doi:10.1038/ngeo1829

A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Texas’ Center for Space Research, indicates that sea level rise between 2005 and 2011 was due primarily to glacial and polar ice shelf melting. In their paper published in Nature Geoscience, the team describes how they studied data from satellites and ocean surface sensors to measure changes in ocean mass and density which allowed them to calculate an average global sea level rise of nearly 2.4mm/year.

The researchers note that sea level changes come about in three main ways: changes in the mass of the water in the ocean, its density, and changes in the volume of ocean basins. To measure all of these over the period 2005 to 2011, the team studied data from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) and from the Argo project (a global array of 3,500 profiling floats that record ocean temperatures and salinity on an ongoing basis.)

Gravity data from GRACE allows researchers to measure the mass of the world’s oceans (divided into six regions) and thus the changes that occur over time. The data showed, the researchers report, a global increase in ocean mass that led to an average ocean level rise of 1.8mm/year during the years studied. They suggest the increase in mass was due to melting of the polar ice sheets and glaciers atop mountains around the globe.

Read more at: Phys.org

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