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Satellites reveal global fingerprints of sea-level rise

Global fingerprints of sea-level rise revealed by satellites, http://www.nature.com/news/global-fingerprints-of-sea-level-rise-revealed-by-satellites-1.22588

Geological processes send more meltwater from glaciers and ice sheets to Earth’s mid-latitudes. Rachael Lallensack, As an ice sheet melts, it leaves a unique signature behind. Complex geological processes distribute the meltwater in a distinct pattern, or ‘fingerprint’, that causes seas to rise unevenly around the world. Now, for the first time, researchers have observed what these sea-level fingerprints look like on a global scale.

“No one has put it together for a complete global picture like this before,” says James Davis, a geophysicist at Columbia University in Palisades, New York. The work was published in Geophysical Research Letters on 9 September1.

The concept of sea-level fingerprints has been been factored into models used to predict sea-level rise for several years, says lead researcher Isabella Velicogna, a geophysicist at the University of California, Irvine. And researchers have used tide gauges for just as long to observe the fingerprints in coastal regions. But the global view provided by the latest study adds confidence to projections of future sea-level rise.

As an ice sheet melts, it leaves a unique signature behind. Complex geological processes distribute the meltwater in a distinct pattern, or ‘fingerprint’, that causes seas to rise unevenly around the world. Now, for the first time, researchers have observed what these sea-level fingerprints look like on a global scale.

“No one has put it together for a complete global picture like this before,” says James Davis, a geophysicist at Columbia University in Palisades, New York. The work was published in Geophysical Research Letters on 9 September1.

The concept of sea-level fingerprints has been been factored into models used to predict sea-level rise for several years, says lead researcher Isabella Velicogna, a geophysicist at the University of California, Irvine. And researchers have used tide gauges for just as long to observe the fingerprints in coastal regions. But the global view provided by the latest study adds confidence to projections of future sea-level rise.

Velicogna and co-author Chia-Wei Hsu, also at the University of California, Irvine, used gravity data from NASA’s two Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites, which measure changes in mass on Earth’s surface. The scientists looked at satellite data from April 2002 to October 2014, and matched it with measurements from pressure stations on the ocean floor. These instruments measure the total mass above them.

Velicogna says that the findings should be used to create a roadmap for better placement of ocean-bottom pressure stations, which in turn can be used to improve calculations of sea-level fingerprints in the future.

“We know sea-level change throughout the world won’t be uniform, and it’s useful for people to know how those changes might show up,” says Mark Tamisiea, a geophysicist at the University of Texas at Austin.

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September 14, 2017 - Posted by | climate change, oceans, Reference

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