New Approach to Determining Sea Level Rise

Written by on September 11, 2012 in Physical Oceanography, Technology

Scientists from the National Oceanography Centre in Liverpool and Newcastle University proposed their idea to assess the mass of the global ocean by weighing it at a single point.

Predictions for sea level rise through the end of the century vary greatly–from 30cm to over a meter.  By weighing the ocean at one point, the researchers hope to eliminate some of the uncertainty of these predictions and the complexity of measuring sea level rise through other methods.

National Oceanography Centre’s Professor Christopher Hughes explains the research:

“We have shown that making accurate measurements of the changing pressure at a single point in the Pacific Ocean will indicate the mass of the world ocean.  And we know where to place such a pressure gauge – the central tropical Pacific where the deep ocean is at its quietest.  This instrument needs to be located away from land and oceanic variability.  The principle is rather like watching your bath fill: you don’t look near the taps, where all you can see is splashing and swirling, you look at the other end where the rise is slow and steady.”

However, an instrument sensitive enough to measure differences of only fractions of a millimeter of water per year over the long-term does not yet exist.  The research team is hoping that engineers will help solve this problem.

Hughes explains that the person who is capable of creating this instrument “will have solved the biggest measurement problem in sea level science, and produced an instrument of enormous value in other branches of oceanography.”

You can read the full story here: Weighing the ocean.

Red areas indicate regions of the southeastern US that would be below sea level for rises of 1, 2, 4 and 8 meters, respectively. Photo credit: NOAA.

Red areas indicate regions of the southeastern US that would be below sea level for rises of 1, 2, 4 and 8 meters. Photo credit: NOAA.

Copyright © 2012 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .


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