Satellite Data Shows Global Warming Is Accelerating Sea Level Rise Faster Than Ever

Tuesday, 13 February 2018 - 10:30AM
Science News
Tuesday, 13 February 2018 - 10:30AM
Satellite Data Shows Global Warming Is Accelerating Sea Level Rise Faster Than Ever
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Now might be a good time to start taking long-distance swimming lessons—it turns out that humanity is melting the planet even faster than had been previously estimated.

A new study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, has analyzed 25 years of data on sea levels across the planet in order to make a new batch of predictions about where we'll end up over the rest of the century if we don't dramatically change our behavior. Suprise surprise, it's not good news.

According to the study, since 1993 the world has experienced an average sea level rise of 2.7 inches total. As the world heats up faster, we'll soon start seeing a rise of around 1.5 inches per year going forward.

According to the scientists, this estimate is conservative at best—it assumes that the current level of global temperature rises will continue along a flat line of progression, rather than spiking upwards any further. Even in the very best-case scenarios, we're looking at gaining two feet of average global water level rises over the next 80 years.

This report while not by any means a surprise to those who've been keeping an eye on the data, is noteworthy as it's the first time that a long-term study has managed to compile statistics in order to provide a solid prediction of where we'll be in a few more years.



According to Andrea Dutton, assistant professor and fellow at the Florida Climate Institute at the University of Florida (who wasn't involved with the study):

Opening quote
"It's really interesting. For a long time, people had been saying that the satellite data is too short for us to use and make any projections. Now it's just starting to get long enough to do a reasonable statistical analysis of it. And they find that it has accelerated over this time period since 1993 when we first started measuring sea level using these satellites."
Closing quote


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

According to Steve Nerem, Associate Director of the Colorado Center for Astrodynamics Research at the University of Colorado Boulder and co-author of this new study:

Opening quote
This research would not have been possible without the NASA satellite measurements. We really would be blind without those satellites. I mean, we still have other measurements but those measurements have a lot bigger errors, it's a lot harder to tell what's going on, and so it's critical to have the satellite measurements and really I think everybody needs to put in a plug for the satellites so that NASA continues to give us these observations."
Closing quote


The specifics of the future are hard enough to predict even with this satellite data—it's difficult to know exactly how Planet Earth will react as cold polar water mixes in with underground currents in our oceans. The uptick in devastating storms experiences in 2017 are believed to be only the beginning of the random devastation that will be caused by man-made climate change. This issue is about a lot more than keeping beachfront property intact.

Make no mistake, time is running out. If we don't start making drastic changes to reduce our planet's carbon footprint, we are all going to get a whole lot wetter.
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Global Warming Is Accelerating Sea Level Rise Faster Than Expected, Satellite Data Shows
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