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Join Britannica's Publishing Partner Program and our community of experts to gain a global audience for your work! External Websites Space Geodesy Group - Sea Level Global Warming - Measuring Sea Level Tide Observation By The Geographical Survey Institute - Roles of Sea Level Measurement BBC News - Measuring Sea Level Rise From Space WRITTEN BY The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica Encyclopaedia Britannica's editors oversee subject areas in which they have extensive knowledge, whether from years of experience gained by working on that content or via study for an advanced degree.... See Article History Alternative Title: ultimate baselevel Know how satellites like the GOCE help in determining the sea level
Know how satellites like the GOCE help in determining the sea level Learn how sea level is measured.Contunico © ZDF Enterprises GmbH, Mainz See all videos for this article

Sea level , position of the air-sea interface , to which all terrestrial elevations and submarine depths are referred. The sea level constantly changes at every locality with the changes in tides, atmospheric pressure , and wind conditions. Longer-term changes in sea level are influenced by Earth’s changing climates. Consequently, the level is better defined as mean sea level , the height of the sea surface averaged over all stages of the tide over a long period of time.

Sea level Sea level Roadside sea level marker between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea, Israel.Berthold Werner
changes in global average surface temperature and sea level and Northern Hemisphere snow cover
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global warming: Ice melt and sea level rise
A warming climate holds important implications for other aspects of the global environment. Because of the slow process of heat diffusion...

Global mean sea level rose at an average rate of about 1.2 mm (0.05 inch) per year over much of the 20th century, with shorter terms during which the rise was significantly faster (5.5 mm [0.2 inches] per year during the period from 1946 to 1956). This variable rise has been shown to have occurred for a very long time. The sea level appears to have been very close to its present position 35,000 years ago. It dropped 130 metres (426 feet) or more during the interval from 30,000 to 15,000 years ago and has been rising ever since. Fluctuations of equivalent magnitude probably have accompanied the alternate growth and melting of continental glaciers during the Pleistocene Epoch (from 2.6 million to 11,700 years ago) because the ocean’s waters are the ultimate source of glacial ice. Slower changes in the shapes and sizes of the ocean basins have less effect.

global sea surface height change, 1993–2008 global sea surface height change, 1993–2008 Change in sea surface height from 1993 to 2008, using data collected from the Topex/Poseidon and Jason-1 satellites.NASA/JPLThis article was most recently revised and updated by Amy Tikkanen , Corrections Manager.Learn More in these related Britannica articles:
changes in global average surface temperature and sea level and Northern Hemisphere snow cover
global warming: Ice melt and sea level rise
A warming climate holds important implications for other aspects of the global environment. Because of the slow process of heat diffusion in water, the world’s oceans are likely to continue to warm for several centuries in response to increases in greenhouse concentrations…
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glacier: Glaciers and sea level
Sea level is currently rising at about 1.8 millimetres (0.07 inch) per year. Between 0.3 and 0.7 millimetres (0.01 to 0.03 inch) per year has been attributed to thermal expansion of ocean water, and most of the remainder is thought to be caused…
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Pleistocene Epoch: Coastal environments and sea-level changes
Coastal environments during the Pleistocene were controlled in large part by the fluctuating level of the sea as well as by local tectonic and environmental conditions. As a result of the many glaciations on land and the subsequent release of meltwater during interglacial…
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