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Researchers find direct evidence of sea level ‘fingerprints’

06 September 2017

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Researchers have reported the first observation of sea level "fingerprints," tell-tale differences in sea level rise around the world in response to changes in continental water and ice sheet mass. The team's findings have been accepted for publication in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.

"Scientists have a solid understanding of the physics of sea level fingerprints, but we've never had a direct detection of the phenomenon until now," said Isabella Velicogna, professor of Earth system science at the University of California, Irvine and research scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, who was a co-author of the new study.

As ice sheets and glaciers undergo climate-related melting, they alter Earth's gravity field, which causes nonuniform sea level change. Certain regions, particularly in the middle latitudes, are harder hit. For instance, Antarctica-generated sea level rise in California and Florida is as much as 52 percent greater than what's average in the rest of the world.

Source: AGU - American Geophysical Union

Image credit: Maria Stenzel/UCI - Image illustration of UCI professor of Earth system science and Jet Propulsion Laboratory research scientist, on an expedition to Greenland.

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