Sea levels rising faster than thought
Updated: 2015-05-12 10:37
MELBOURNE -- Australian researchers have discovered that sea levels are rising faster than previously thought due to incorrect data, a latest study showed.
Scientists from the University of Tasmania (UTAS) have corrected data taken from satellite readings, which now show that sea levels are continuing to rise at dangerous levels.
A report was published in the Nature Climate Change journal this week, which compared the satellite readings with UTAS tide gauges that were placed in the sea.
Lead researcher Dr Christopher Watson told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation the tangible data collected by the gauges was different to the satellite's data.
"Wherever there's a tide gauge we're able to compare that with the satellite altimeter record," he said on Tuesday.
"Now, once we make a correction for how much land motion is at the tide gauge, or how much it's moving up and down, we're able to get a better picture of the really small inaccuracies within the altimeter record."
Satellite data showed that sea levels rose rapidly during the 1990s but slowed over the next decade, but Watson said the gauges told a different story.
He said the satellites overestimated the rate of sea level rise in the first six years of data collection, and that distorted the long-term projection.
He said the rate of rise had not subsided over the last few years as first thought, rather it increased consistently over the past 20 years.
"What we can see here is sea level clearly rising over the 20- year satellite altimeter record with acceleration in the record," he said.
John Church from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) said the revised data predicted that sea levels could rise as much as one meter in the next 85 years, putting more than 150 million lives at risk.
He said that unless more was done to reduce global warming, low- lying coastal areas could be swallowed by the sea.
"If we have major mitigation, then we can limit that rise to be somewhere between 30 and 60 centimeters during the 21st century," he said.