La Nina Only Temporarily Halted Sea Level Rise

In late 2010 residents of Australia would be able to tell you very clearly the impact a strong La Nina can have on the coast: rain. Lots and lots of rain!

However, the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the University of Colorado Boulder will be able to tell you that the same La Nina had a massive impact on the global sea level increase, temporarily halting it and even dropping the sea level by about a quarter of an inch, or half a centimetre.

A new study has shown that, as predicted, the global mean sea level had not only recovered that which it had ‘lost’ due to the strong La Nina but it had resumed its long-term mean annual rise of 0.13 inches (3.2 millimetres) per year.

Sea Level Rise Continues Apace
A new NASA study finds that global sea level, which dipped sharply in 2010-11 due to a strong La Nina event, has recovered and resumed its long-term upward climb.

“The water the ocean ‘lost’ was compensated for rather quickly,” said lead study author Carmen Boening of JPL. “The newest data clearly indicate that the drop in 2010-11 was only temporary.”

The paper, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, documents the effects the 2010-11 La Nina had on global sea level and updates the measurements.

JPL co-author Josh Willis added that, like clockwork, the long-term rise of the ocean marches on. “The dip in global sea levels, brought to us courtesy of a major La Nina event, was little more than a pothole in the long road toward a rising ocean and shrinking coastlines,” he said.

“In 2011, we detected a lot of water that was temporarily stored over land, causing severe flooding in some regions,” said JPL co-author Felix Landerer. “In 2012, we have seen much of this water find its way back into the ocean.”

Source: NASA JPL
Image Source: ASA/JPL-Caltech/CNES

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