Topic 2e - Predicting sea level rise impact

We can measure changes in sea level using altimeter data. Since we started making these measurements, global average sea levels have risen by 8cm.

Although there is variability on a year-to-year basis, the overarching trend is very clear, and is consistent between lots of different altimeters. This gives scientists great confidence in these observations.

The rise in sea level presents challenges for communities living in the coastal regions. The rise in sea level is not consistent over the globe, due to changes in gravity, current dynamics, and heating effects.

In addition to this, the characteristics of the coast in different locations will effect how the impacts of sea level rise manifest. Areas that are already low lying, such as some islands, will be affected even by a small rise in sea level.

Satellite data give us an opportunity to see a global picture of these changes and allows governments to plan how to react.

Optional mini task

Visit this Google Earth based tool to view how different extremes of sea level rise might affect different areas around the world. Share what you find out in the comments.

Featured Educators:

  • Dr Remko Scharroo

Explore the data

EUMETSAT Oceans MOOC Data Viewer

View featured satellites on the satellite tracking app

Don’t forget you can download the video and transcript with the links on the right.


Regional sea level change

Regional sea level change graph

Global mean sea level change

Global mean sea level change graph 1992-2016