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Climate change and the oceans: rising sea level

The indicators are proof that for at least the last hundred years the mean global level of the oceans has been rising.  This increase in water level is now threatening coastal areas, home to a significant proportion of the Earth's population.

Beginning with a few isolated measurements around 1900, we have progressed to global coverage with altimetry satellites, which now provide us with a precise estimate of this rise.  With more than fifteen years' worth of measurements, we are even able to confirm the trend and anticipate the consequences.

There are several possible 'suspects' which may be responsible for the mean rise in sea level: an increase in the temperature of the water, which dilates as it warms, the thawing of mountain glaciers and polar ice caps in Greenland and Antarctica, as well as melting permafrost.  Changes to the amount of rainfall and evaporation also play a part, as well as runoff and inland water reserves, mainly owing to human activity such as dam construction and irrigation.


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