Stages of Denial: ‘Sea level in the Arctic is falling’–Sea level is a surprisingly complicated thing

Objection: According to the latest state-of-the-art satellite measurements from over the Arctic, sea levels are falling! Guess all that ice isn’t melting after all.

Answer: Yes, a new study using Europe’s Space Agency’s ERS-2 satellite has determined that over the last 10 years, sea level in the Arctic Ocean has been falling at an average rate of about 2 mm/year. This is very new and very interesting news, though it is preliminary and not published in any peer-reviewed journals yet. But even if these results hold up to time and scrutiny, it is not evidence that globally sea levels are not rising, because they are.

Recent Sea Level Rise

(courtesy of Global Warming Art)

Sea level and sea level change is not uniform around the globe.

Local sea levels are subject to many influences including: wind and ocean currents that can “pile up” the ocean water locally, temperature anomalies like El Niño, local gravity wells of ice sheets and land masses, and regional salinity levels that alter the water’s density. Measurement of these levels is further complicated by changes in land height as the Earth’s crust moves up or down from tectonic motion and rebounds after long and recently ended glaciation, although these complications are avoided by using satellite measurements.

So in short, this is undoubtedly of interest to specialists in several fields, but it does not in any way alter the Global Climate Change picture.

Real Climate has a more detailed writeup on this here.


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