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Riled Up is a journal of science, the environment, exploration, new technology, and related commentary.  Contributors include scientists, explorers, engineers, and others who provide perspectives and context not typically offered in general news circulation.  For interested readers, additional resources are included.

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Rising Tides

Rising Tides

Wave action La Jolla, California (credit: Wikicommons)


Like any wise mariner, we should be paying more attention to the tides, particularly when they are rising. The Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena has been using radar and other remote sensing data to monitor the oceans and rising sea levels for more than 30 years. The news from JPL is not good.

According to the Lab, the oceans absorb more than 90 percent of the excess heat generated by CO2 that is warming the Earth's atmosphere. This heat increases water volume; increases the strength of storms; melts polar ice and glaciers on Greenland and Antarctica; and has resulted in rising sea level measurement around the world. In the past 30 years, sea level has in and increase of 3.2mm/year since 1993. JPL graphed their 3-decade long measurements.


                  Sea level rise, 1993-present day (credit: JPL)

One of the newer satellites used in monitoring the oceans, the Sentinel-6, gathers even more granular environmental measurements. The US and European collaboration measures sea level surface heights and other key features such as wind speeds that can affect the height of waves. Big data sets from Sentinel are received, analyzed, and compared with previous remote sensing measurements. The data set will greatly assist the improvement of oceanic and land-based weather forecasts.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has three geo-stationary Earth monitoring satellites in their GOES series that provide additional information on a bi-hourly basis. As one NOAA manager said: In a changing climate, it is a great achievement all this data is available.”

The old adage: 'rising tides, sailors be wise' is more relevant now that ever. WHB

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