News / Science & Technology

    New Satellite Collects Sea Level Data to Monitor Climate Change

    Jason-3 Satellite Continues Collecting Data On Sea Level Risei
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    January 31, 2016 2:45 PM
    Scientists from the U.S. and Europe are focusing their attention on the latest satellite launched to collect data on rising global sea levels. The Jason-3 satellite is extending a mission that spans more than two decades. The data collected so far shows sea levels are rising at an accelerating rate. Scientists say this data is also an indicator of climate change. Elizabeth Lee has the details.
    Jason-3 Satellite Continues Collecting Data On Sea Level Rise

    Scientists from the U.S. and Europe have a new eye in the sky monitoring the world's oceans.The Jason-3 satellite, launched on January 17, is the latest satellite to monitor rising sea levels. Scientists say data collected by satellites over the last two decades shows sea levels rising at an accelerating rate, which they say is an indicator of climate change.

    Josh Willis, Lead Project Scientist for the Jason-3 mission at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory said rising sea levels were one of the factors that contributed to the destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Hundreds of people died and the storm surge devastated gulf coast communities as Katrina became one of the deadliest storms in recent U.S. history.

    "The rising ocean winds up causing problems when it comes on top of things like storm surges, high tides, and rare events which bring very high sea levels," said Willis.

    Jason-3 collects data by pulsing radar off the ocean surface several thousands of times a second and returns it back to the satellite.

    "Our satellite records of course only go back about 25 years. But we have measurements of how the oceans have been changing that go back thousands of years and in fact the past 2000 years have been very stable in terms of sea level and climate change. It’s only in the last hundred or so years that rapid sea level rise has begun, driven by the warming of the planet," Willis said. 

    Any material, including water, expands when heated. The Jason-3 satellite measures the height of the sea surface, allowing scientists to calculate how much extra heat is stored in the ocean.

    Lee-Lueng Fu, the project scientist for the Jason-2 mission at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said the ocean covers 70 percent of the Earth’s surface, and more than 90 percent of the heat trapped by greenhouse gases ends up in the ocean.

    "So we are entering a very unique time that greenhouse gas is increasing at an unprecedented pace --50 percent increase in less than 150 years so that’s just a fact," he said. "So a lot of warming happening in a very short time and sea level is rising at a pace [that is] very rapid." 

    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Eric Leuliette said sea levels are an expression of climate change for two reasons.

    "One is that excess heat that goes in the ocean is causing the ocean to expand," he said. "On top of that, as the glaciers and ice sheets melt due to global warming nearly all that water runs into the ocean also causing the ocean to rise."

    Leuliette said the data collected from the Jason-3 satellite will help them to continue to monitor the global impacts of rising sea levels, including increased floods.The information collected by the satellite will also help meteorologists better forecast the intensity of big storms such as Hurricane Katrina.

     "When hurricane Katrina was passing over we could see the spot of warm water using the Jason data that caused the hurricane to intensify from a category three to a category five hurricane," said Leuliette.

    Once the Jason-3 Satellite retires in three to five years, scientists plan to launch another satellite to continue the mission of building a satellite record of sea level rise on Earth.

    You May Like

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Steve Case from: United States
    January 31, 2016 3:26 PM
    We are told in the first paragraph:

    "Scientists say data collected by satellites over the last two decades shows sea levels rising at an accelerating rate ...

    Not true, Google this title:

    "Why has an acceleration of sea level rise not been observed during the altimeter era?"

    You should find a pdf presentation by Dr. R Steve Nerem. Dr. Nerem is lested first at Colorado University's Sea Level Research group which you can also Google. The presentation says that acceleration of sea level rise since 1992 has been a negative -0.06 mm/yr². That's is few years old now but it remains true.

    Steve Case - Milwaukee, WI
    In Response

    by: Steve Case from: United States
    February 06, 2016 5:43 AM
    "Tim Hoar ...
    February 02, 2016 12:03 PM
    Perhaps you're confusing acceleration with speed."

    Forum rules don't allow links, so I provided the key words so a Google search could easily find the presentation by Dr. R. Steve Nerem of Colorado University's Sea Level Research Group. If you do find that presentation, scroll down to the last page where you will find the deceleration statistic of -0.06 mm/yr².

    But if you still believe that Dr. Nerem is confusing speed and acceleration, you could send him an email, it's listed on the Sea Level Research Group's site. Or you could down load the data from the "Raw data (ASCII) " link on their web page and do your own analysis. Anyone with an Excel spreadsheet and a little desire can verify from that data that, over the 22 years that satellites have been measuring sea level, the rate of sea level rise for the last 11 years is less than it was for the first 11 years.

    Best regards
    Steve Case - Milwaukee, WI
    In Response

    by: Tim Hoar from: Lafayette, CO
    February 02, 2016 12:03 PM
    Perhaps you're confusing acceleration with speed.
    When a car accelerates from a stop to 60 (for example) the acceleration at the beginning is much greater than the acceleration as the car approaches 60 (usually). If you compare the acceleration at the end to the acceleration at the beginning, the acceleration can be less. However, the car is still gaining speed.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora