Satellite altimetry-based sea level rise over the past 20 years

01 July 2014

Sea-level rise is one of the most threatening consequences of ongoing global warming and is a major indicator of climate change.

Since the early 1990s global mean sea level (GMSL) trends have been routinely measured with quasi-global coverage and a few days/weeks revisit time by altimeter satellites (ERS, Envisat,CryoSat, Topex/Poseidon, Jason and SARAL/AltiKa) showing a significant, of about 30%, slowdown of the mean rate in the last decade -compared to the 1990s-, in coincidence with a plateau in Earth's mean surface temperature evolution.

In their analysis of the satellite altimetry-based sea level data for the past 20 years, scientists separate inter annual natural variability in sea level mostly due to exchange of water between oceans, atmosphere and continents, from the longer-term change probably related to anthropogenic global warming.

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