Research highlight

Sea-level patterns in the Indian Ocean

Nature Geoscience

July 12, 2010

The coasts of Indonesia, Sumatra and the north Indian Ocean could be exposed to significantly higher sea-level rise than the global average, whereas the Seychelles Islands and the eastern coasts of Kenya and Tanzania could see little or no change. This study, published online in Nature Geoscience, notes patterns of regional sea-level change that have been detected for the past half century, and suggests that they are linked to human-induced climate warming.

Weiqing Han and colleagues investigated regional trends in Indian Ocean sea levels since the 1960s, using ocean observations, satellite data and climate-model simulations. They identified a distinct pattern of sea-level change, with a sea-level fall in the south tropical Indian Ocean and an increase elsewhere. The researchers attribute these regional differences to an increasingly vigorous atmospheric overturning circulation in both north-south and east-west directions. This is partly caused by climate warming, suggesting that a similar pattern of sea-level change may occur in the future.

doi: 10.1038/ngeo901

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