Precise Determination of the Weight of Ocean Will Help Model Sea Level Rise


Ocean sea level rise illustration.

If scientists are able to figure out the precise weight of the world’s oceans it will allow them to model changes in the sea level more accurately. With the record ice melt this past summer, it would help ensure the safety of the cities on the coastlines that are vulnerable to any rise of the oceans.

Oceanographers are planning to figure out how much the total water in the Pacific Ocean weighs. Every year, the oceans fill up and empty a bit during their seasonal cycles. Between March and September, six trillion tons of water enters the Pacific Ocean from melting land ice. This is enough to raise global sea levels by nearly two centimeters. Over the winter months, most, but not all, of this water will evaporate and return to the ground either as snow or rain.


In order to accurately model sea levels, it’s important for scientists to find out the weight of the ocean so they can separate out the different causes of sea level change. Researchers from the National Oceanography Center in England say that “making accurate measurements of changing pressure at a single point will help indicate the mass of the world ocean.”

The researchers are hoping that engineers can develop an instrument that will be very precise and durable, being able to measure fractions of a millimeter of water whilst dealing with the pressure of kilometers of water above it.

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