Our directory of things of interest

University Directory

Australian rain halted sea-level rise

  • Written by  Olivia Edward
  • Published in Climate
Devils Marbles, Australia Devils Marbles, Australia Shutterstock
01 Oct
So much rain fell on Australia in 2010 and 2011 that the global sea-level not only stopped rising, but actually dropped measurably, according to a new study

The first two years of this decade saw a unique combination of three atmospheric patterns come together over the Indian and Pacific oceans, causing about 300 millimetres more rain than average to fall over the Australian continent. Australia’s unusual soils and topography prevented the majority of this precipitation from running off into the ocean, leading to a halt in the long-term trend of rising sea levels.

To conduct the research, a team of scientists led by John Fasullo of the US National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, combined data from three sources: NASA’s GRACE satellites, which make detailed measurements of Earth’s gravitational field, enabling scientists to monitor changes in the mass of continents; the Argo global array of 3,000 free-drifting floats, which measure the temperature and salinity of the upper layers of the oceans; and satellite-based altimeters that are continuously calibrated against a network of tide gauges.

The results showed that the mass in Australia and, to a lesser extent, South America began to increase in 2010 as the continents experienced heavy and persistent rain. At the same time, sea levels began to drop, eventually lowering by about seven millimetres.

This story was published in the October 2013 edition of Geographical Magazine

Related items

Subscribe and Save!

geo line break v3

Free eBooks - Geographical Newsletter

Sign up for our weekly newsletter today and get a FREE eBook collection!

geo line break v3

University of Winchester

geo line break v3


Aberystwyth University University of Greenwich The University of Derby




Travel the Unknown

NEVER MISS A STORY - Follow Geographical on Social

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in NATURE...


A type of panel has been invented that can generate…


In the 4th century BC, Aristotle proposed that earthquakes were…


The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management pledges to achieve net…


Earthquakes from time immemorial have attracted the attention of the…


A planned kayaking expedition in Nepal took on a whole…


Scientists from Bristol University are working in conjunction with EDF…


In the 1930s, Charles Richter developed a simple scale for…


Researchers at Colombia University have answered a question that has…


How prepared can any government or city be against a…


Benjamin Hennig creates a series of cartograms to demonstrate the…


Could grey seals singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star help develop…


Deep sea expert Dr Alex Rogers explains the importance of…


Analysis of coral cores, extracted from coral reefs in the…


Celebrities and animal welfare groups have been expressing their disappointment…


In a series of photographs from his recent trip to…


In contrast to established wisdom, one group of scientists believe…


Parkesine, celluloid and Bakelite – the first three kinds of…