Sea Level

  • William W. Hay


Sea level is a long-term average of the heights of high and low tides. It is a function of the volume of water in the ocean. The volume depends on the mass of H2O in the ocean, the salinity, and the temperature. Although the ocean is by far the largest reservoir of H2O the masses in groundwater and ice are also significant. Thermal expansion as the ocean warms can produce sea level changes of tens of meters. Sea level at any particular place also depends on motions of the earth’s solid surface changes in the speed of earth’s rotation, the effect of winds, atmospheric pressure systems and the evaporation-precipitation balance. During the Last Glacial Maximum seal level was about 135 meters lower than today. During the deglaciation sea level rose to its present level in about 11,000 years. Because of the interaction between the increasing volume of water and the motions of Earth’s solid surface sea level records for different places can look very different. During the last 8,000 years global sea level has been stable, but a slow rise has been observed over the past few centuries.


Gravitational Attraction Asthenospheric Material Ocean Trench Peripheral Bulge Shallow Groundwater Reservoir 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Colorado at BoulderEstes ParkUSA

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