Global Sea Level Rise and the Greenhouse Effect: Might They Be Connected?

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Science  19 May 1989:
Vol. 244, Issue 4906, pp. 806-810
DOI: 10.1126/science.244.4906.806


Secular sea level trends extracted from tide gauge records of appropriately long duration demonstrate that global sea level may be rising at a rate in excess of 1 millimeter per year. However, because global coverage of the oceans by the tide gauge network is highly nonuniform and the tide gauge data reveal considerable spatial variability, there has been a well-founded reluctance to interpret the observed secular sea level rise as representing a signal of global scale that might be related to the greenhouse effect. When the tide gauge data are filtered so as to remove the contribution of ongoing glacial isostatic adjustment to the local sea level trend at each location, then the individual tide gauge records reveal sharply reduced geographic scatter and suggest that there is a globally coherent signal of strength 2.4 ± 0.90 millimeters per year that is active in the system. This signal could constitute an indication of global climate warming.

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