True Impact Of Climate Change On Rising Sea Levels Has Been Concealed For Decades

'The acceleration is about to become evident'

11/08/2016 10:19

Greenhouse gases are having an accelerating effect on sea level rise, but the true extent of the problem has been masked for decades. 

A new study claims that the real consequences of climate change have been heavily distorted by the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines in 1991.

The National Centre for Atmospheric Research, in the USA, has shown that measurements of sea levels taken in the early nineties were ‘false’ because the Pinatubo eruption cooled the planet, causing sea levels to temporarily drop by 6 millimeters.

Astalor via Getty Images

Satellite records show that the rate of sea level rise has been steady at 3 millimeters per year since 1993, the year that satellite records began. Prior to 1993, global sea level was only measured using tide gauges, which can at best give an approximate.

However because these satellite records were introduced so shortly after the Pinatubo eruption, it meant a lower sea level starting point has effectively distorted the data of acceleration for the last couple of decades.

Scientist John Fasullo wrote, in the Nature journal: “Now that the impacts of Pinatubo have faded, this acceleration should become evident in the satellite measurements in the coming decade, barring another major volcanic eruption.”

Over the last couple of decades, the pace of global warming and melting of ice caps has accelerated but the sea level rise has not always corresponded with this. 

Now this NASA funded study provides reasoning for that inconsistency and predicts that in the next couple of decades the true rate of acceleration will start to reveal itself.

Climate change triggers sea level rise by warming the ocean, which causes the water to expand, and by melting glaciers and ice sheets, which drain into the ocean. 

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