Researchers say slowing of sea level rise is temporary.
Melting glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica are sending tons of water into the ocean, causing rising sea levels and predictions of dire circumstances for coastal communities and their life styles, but according to story on weather.com, dry land is absorbing some of the water and slowing the process.
But the question is, will that bring some relief for those communities that may be soon flooded? Probably not, according to J. T. Reager, lead author of the study done by researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab. Reager said this wasn’t really good news, because it is only a temporary phenomenon. Reager says El Niño and La Niña are causing rainfall in more locations and the land masses are absorbing more water, but it will soon return to the ocean again. Reager says the collection of water in the soil, lakes and underwater aquifers has slowed the sea level rise by about 15 percent, and that is actually masking the affect of the melting glaciers.
Using data from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE), which uses twin satellites to measure changes in the gravitational pull of the Earth due to fluctuating surface water, Reager and his team discovered the groundwater storage was having a significant effect on the understanding of the sea levels. The researchers say the Earth has absorbed about an extra 3.2 trillion tons of water.
But, Harold Wanless, an expert on the sea level rise from the University of Miami, says the Greenland Ice Sheet alone contributed about 350 gigatons in 2010 and is doubling every seven years. It remains to be seen if it will continue to accelerate at that pace, but the speed of the melting will still overwhelm the ability of the ground to soak water that quickly.
Wanless, who was not a participant in the study, added there was a lowering of sea levels a few years back cue to heavy rains in the Amazon basin and in Australia, but eventually the water flowed back into the oceans and kept the pace of the rising levels on track.
Other experts say the finding was important because it can lead to more accurate predictions of the sea level rise and better understanding of the total sea level budget. Scientists will be monitoring the ground water storage for an increase and try to determine what affect climate change may have on underground water supplies.