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Sea level rise accelerating

June 29, 2017

A new study (cite) shows that sea level rise has accelerated over the last two decades, looking closely at the individual contributors to that increase. Greenland and glacier ice melt has become much more significant in recent years than twenty years past. Thermal expansion has stalled, but that likely is temporary:

This new analysis suggests thermal expansion actually diminished in significance between 1993 and 2014, contributing about half of the annual increase in global sea level at the beginning of the time period but less than a third at the end. This, the paper suggests, might be due to the volcanic eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991. Climate model simulations show ocean temperature falls following such eruptions and is suppressed for more than 15 years.

The neat thing about the study is that it tied year-over-year sea level rise to separate year-over-year measurements of the various contributions to it. Bob Kopp, a sea level expert at Rutgers, explains:

We’ve known the bottom line total sea level change over the last couple decades, and we’ve known the individual components on a year-by-year basis. We’ve known the two match up pretty well. The authors show that, when you look a bit more sharply at the year-to-year total, it’s quite close to the total of the individual components. The sums work, not just on average but in each year. This increases confidence in the overall result.

This isn’t highly speculative science. This is ever better measurement and arithmetic.

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