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Quantifying the effects of climate change

05 June 2017

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Last year was the hottest on record, Arctic sea ice is on the decline and sea levels continue to rise. In this context, satellites are providing us with an unbiased view of how our climate is changing and the effects it is having on our planet.

Estimates show that the global sea level is rising by about 3mm a year. This is one of the major threats of global warming, especially for low-lying coastal areas.

Identifying the individual contributors to sea-level rise is a complicated challenge in climate science. Earth-observing satellites are mapping sea-level changes, which vary across the globe, but the data from satellites can also be used to quantify the amount of water coming from various sources such as melting glaciers and ice sheets, as well as the thermal expansion of ocean water due to rising temperatures.

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