NASA | Watching Rising Seas From Space


on Aug 27, 2015

Oceanographer Josh Willis from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory narrates this video about the causes of sea level rise and how sea level has changed over the last two decades as observed by the Jason series of satellite missions.


Hi I’m Josh Willis the project scientist for the Jason-3 missions to measure sea level rise from space.

In some ways suitable rises really simple. As water heats up it takes it more room. This drives sea level rise, and in addition, as glaciers and ice sheets are melted extra water is added to the ocean just like when you turn the faucet in the bathtub.

Over ninety percent of the heat trapped by greenhouse gases is being absorbed by the oceans. When that happens, sea water expands and this helps drive sea level rise.

Hundreds of millions of people around the world live on coastlines that can be threatened by rising seas. This animation shows how sea levels have changed over the last 23 years. Globally see levels have gone up by about 6 cm during that time.

But it doesn’t happen all at the same speed everywhere. Some places rising faster than others and some places or even falling. Orange and red colors means that sea levels have gone up in these locations. And blue and white mean sea levels have stayed the same or actually fallen.

You can see that most places in the Ocean are orange meaning sea levels have risen over the last 23 years. In a few places you can see blue where sea level has actually dropped. He we see the Gulfstream. Red and blue indicate that this massive current has shifted slightly in the last 23 years.

Off the west coast of United States, we’ve seen sea levels actually drop. This is because waters they’re cooling because of something called the Pacific decadal oscillation.

In the Western Pacific, sea levels have been rising very rapidly. This is because heat is being pushed from east to west across the Pacific.

Sea level rises give you a major impact of human caused climate change. And here at NASA we’re doing everything we can try to better understand it.

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Release Date: 26 August 2015

Credit: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)


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