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
2013
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

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...

Geophoto

Prepare to be inspired, startled and filled with awe in…

Climate

Excessive use of nitrogen-based fertilisers is contributing to numerous environmental…

Energy

A group of scientists from Edinburgh University has come up…

Geophoto

​This year’s winning environmental photographs show the impacts of the…

Wildlife

A WWF report has revealed that global forest vertebrate populations…

Climate

Yesterday saw one of the biggest public protest movements in…

Climate

On the eve of millions of world citizens going on…

Wildlife

Around 75 million birds are kept as pets in Indonesia,…

Wildlife

Migratory animals are actively adjusting their traditions to cope with…

Climate

How many trees can you plant in a day?

Polar

New analysis of NASA data has led to the discovery…

Climate

Naomi Klein is back and calling for a new world…

Geophoto

The move away from film has meant more pictures being…

Oceans

As the ocean looks set to get busier due to…

Climate

A report details how tropical storms are fuelling the rise…

Wildlife

After years of trials, talks, tweaks and test runs, EarthRanger…

Climate

Nationalism might gain political points in certain parts of the…

Geophoto

With guaranteed sunshine, bright blue skies and not a hint…

Oceans

A review of coral-saving methods is helping communities decide which…

Polar

A seven-year study of Patagonia’s ice sheets has revealed the…