In DepthCoastal Geology

Seas are rising faster than believed at many river deltas

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Science  01 Feb 2019:
Vol. 363, Issue 6426, pp. 441
DOI: 10.1126/science.363.6426.441

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Techniques for measuring ocean height at the local level could be missing an important element of sea level rise in the world's deltas: shallow sinking land. Scientists have traditionally inferred the sinking from tide gauge readings or measured it directly at GPS stations. But a team of scientists now says these methods, because of the depth of their anchoring, significantly underestimate subsidence at many deltas and low-lying coastlines worldwide. This is the case for many tide gauges in Louisiana, where shallow compaction accounts for half the sea level rise. Figuring out which gauges rely on deep or shallow anchoring will be challenging; such data are not included in typical databases. Also, given the variability of wetlands, what's true for Louisiana may not be true elsewhere, such as Bangladesh. Using a simple tool known as a surface elevation table, however, scientists can capture this shallow subsidence; already used in more than 30 countries, these tables should be more widely deployed, the team argues.