A flooded New York in 2012 when Hurricane Sandy hit the U.S. East Coast. Photo credit: Alec Perkins / Flickr

The oceans have risen by an average of 8 centimeters (3,1 inches) since 1992. This is due to warmer water and melting ice, according to a team of NASA scientists.

This new data was published on Wednesday and shows that the level of change actually varies greatly at different locations around the world. With some areas, such as the U.S. West Coast, has even demonstrated lower sea levels. Other areas show an increase by as much as 25 centimeters (9,8 inches). The reason for this is the ocean currents according to the researchers.

The trend is clear, however, the sea levels are rising. In 2013, a United Nations panel predicted that sea levels would rise between 0,3 to 0,9 meters (1 to 3 feet) by the end of the century. The new data indicates that sea levels will most likely be at the high end of that range.

“People need to understand that the planet is not only changing, it’s changed,” NASA scientist Tom Wagner told reporters at Reuters in a conference call.

That sea levels are rise is a potential danger for many nations and peoples. With 150 million people living only 1 meter (3,3 feet) above the present sea level. The majority is found in Asia.

And the researchers do not see an end to sea level rise, pointing to three different explanations as to why it continues to rise.

  • One-third of the increase is explained today with the warmer seawater expands.
  • Another third from the melting ice at the polar region.
  • And the final third from all the glaciers melting on land.

“If you’re going to put in major infrastructures like a water treatment plant or a power plant in a coastal zone … we have data you can now use to estimate what the impacts are going to be in the next 100 years,” Wagner said.



NASA: Earth Observatory