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Update on the Global Average Sea Level

August 7, 2013; 6:17 PM ET

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has released their annual 'State of the Climate' report for 2012.

According to NOAA, global average sea level in 2012 was 1.4 inches above the 1993-2010 average, which was the highest yearly average in the satellite record (1993-present).

The NOAA image below shows the global sea level anomaly (in inches) for 2012. Blue colors indicate above normal sea level, orange is below normal.

The differences in the sea level anomalies that you see on the map above can be due to minor changes in ocean currents and from natural climate patterns (ex. El Nino, PDO ect...) that cause regional cooling or warming. By the way, warmer waters have greater volume and thus higher sea level than cooler waters due to thermal expansion.

The NOAA chart below shows how the global average sea level has been in a fairly steady climb since 1993. In addition to thermal expansion from warmer climate patterns, part of the reason for the climb has been the increase in water being added to the oceans from melting glaciers and ice sheets.

By the way, In the most recent period (2005-12), meltwater entering the ocean has dominated sea level rise, accounting for more than twice the contribution from warming-caused expansion, according to the NOAA report.

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  • State of the Climate report

    August 3, 2016; 3:26 PM ET

    The annual "State of the Climate" report was just released and the results are quite sobering.

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Climate Change
In the Climate Change Blog, you will find links to the latest research, commentary by experts with various points of view on all aspects of global climate change.