A new factor contributing to the rise of sea levels has been discovered.Scientists have uncovered an alarming reason for why sea levels are rising. While melting glaciers were believed to be the primary factor for the increase of water levels, researchers did not take into account the way oceans cope with the added mass.
According to a report published in the journal, Geophysical Research Letters, the extra weight coming from melting glaciers is pushing the seafloor at the bottom. Thus, the larger volume of water increases the total height of the oceans. This new discovery adds another layer of the overall ramifications of climate change.
“The Earth itself is not a rigid sphere, it’s a deforming ball,” said Thomas Frederikse, a geoscientist from the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands.
According to Frederikse, climate change does not only change temperature but also causes the ocean bottom to strain the elasticity of the ocean floor. Frederikse and his team call this phenomenon barystatic sea level rise, and they believe it can tamper with previous measurements obtained through satellite imagery. Satellites are only good at reading sea levels from a geocentric point of view, with the help of altimeters that measure the ocean surface from the center of the Earth.
According to the research, all sea-levels measurements would be about 8 percent off, however, Frederikse believes only 4 percent could be attributed to the ocean floor subsiding. This is due to warming temperatures contributing half the increase in sea level rise, which can cause the same amount of water to expand and take up more space.
The researchers explain that seafloor deformation is not uniform as the difference between relative and geocentric sea level change may deviate from the overall global difference.
According to the study, the sea floor sank by about 2.5 mm between 1993 and 2014, which translates to 0.13 mm per year. While the calculation encompasses the change in sea level depth on a global scale, researchers warn that some specific regions are more affected than others. For example, scientists point out that water levels in the Arctic region rise 1 mm per year while the south Pacific registered 0.4 mm per year.
Researchers stress that further sea-level estimates should be calculated using all available means to properly quantify seabed warping.
Image Source: Pixabay
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