Wednesday, 5 December 2012

"West Coast Sea Level Dropping" - oceanographer tells it like it is

Spartan Daily, the college newspaper of San Jose State University (California), has a report on a talk given by Larry Breaker, adjunct professor of physical oceanography at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories to students there,
New studies show regional sea levels are dropping on the West Coast even though global sea level rise is accelerating.
“Regional sea level rise is not uniform around the world,” said Larry Breaker, adjunct professor of physical oceanography at a talk at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories last week. “Although sea level is rising in some areas, in other areas it’s falling.”
Other studies (including mine, of course) have shown the same about US west coast sea-levels, though you'd not think so given the almost total silence on the issue in the media. Several of the students showed an alarming ignorance on the subject, given that they're studying at a marine laboratory.
“I was surprised to hear that,” said Moss Landing Marine Labs graduate student Christian Denney. “The concept that the local sea level was different from the global mean is new to me.” 
“(The sea level) has been steadily rising since the 1930s,” said Moss Landing Marine Labs graduate student Dorota Szuta. “But I didn’t realize that the sea level had actually been falling on the west coast of North America.”
And so it has, but the concept that the world climate and other metrics are anything but uniform shouldn't be news to anyone, especially students in a scientific discipline such as these two. I was going to say full marks to the prof. for telling it like it is, and so I do, but I shouldn't need to - isn't truth the universal standard in science?

More from the prof. -
“With GPS data we can now estimate local subsidence and uplift in the vicinity of many tide gauges,” he said. "Recently acquired GPS data near the San Francisco tide gauge suggests that it could be subsiding at rates approaching one millimeter per year."
Now that's interesting (at least to me) as I haven't been able to acquire any up-to-date GPS info for the US west coast. If you're interested, read the article for a few more interesting observations by the prof., and read his profile for even more interesting stuff - his experience in things oceanic is extensive. How refreshing to report on something in a positive light for a change, and not have to take a poke at anyone about what they've said or written (a few students excepted, of course).

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