Remotely Sensed Sea Level Change, 1992-2012

Remotely Sensed Sea Level Change, 1992-2012

Source: NOAA, Satellite and Information Service.

Global mean sea level change is the outcome of two processes on the volume taken by the oceans on the earth’s surface. First, changes in the quantity of heat accumulated by the oceans and its level of salinity will impact the density of oceanic water and therefore its volume. Warm water has a lower density than cold water, so it takes more volume. Salt water has a higher density than fresh water, so it takes less volume; the Atlantic has a higher level of salinity than the Pacific. The second process involve the exchange of water between oceanic masses and other water reservoirs, namely polar ice caps and ice sheets. An increase in the global temperature involves a release of additional water from these reservoirs into the oceans, increasing their mass. Although estimates vary, those provided by the Laboratory for Satellite Altimetry (NOAA) indicate an average global trend in sea level rise since 1992 in the range of about 3 mm per year.