Sea Level Rise During Past 40 Years Determined from Satellite and in Situ Observations

Science  26 Oct 2001:
Vol. 294, Issue 5543, pp. 840-842
DOI: 10.1126/science.1063556

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The 3.2 ± 0.2 millimeter per year global mean sea level rise observed by the Topex/Poseidon satellite over 1993–98 is fully explained by thermal expansion of the oceans. For the period 1955–96, sea level rise derived from tide gauge data agrees well with thermal expansion computed at the same locations. However, we find that subsampling the thermosteric sea level at usual tide gauge positions leads to a thermosteric sea level rise twice as large as the “true” global mean. As a possible consequence, the 20th century sea level rise estimated from tide gauge records may have been overestimated.

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