Pacific Ocean rising because of human activity

New research warns the ocean near the Philippines and northeast Australia are rising by about 1 cm per year due to human activity

By Rajit Sengupta
Published: Wednesday 23 July 2014

Sea level rise around the Philippines and off the northeast coast of Australia has been shown to be caused by human activity, according to a new study involving CU-Boulder (Map source: University of Colorado Boulder) Sea levels will continue to rise in the tropical Pacific Ocean off the coasts of the Philippines and north-eastern Australia because of human activity, says a new study.

Researchers from Old Dominion University and the University of Colorado Boulder, both in the US, conducted the study to find out how much a naturally occurring climate phenomenon called the pacific decadal oscillation or PDO influences sea rise patterns in the Pacific. “PDO is a temperature pattern in the Pacific Ocean akin to El Niño but which lasts roughly 20 to 30 years and contributes significantly to the decadal trends in regional and global sea level,” says Robert Leben, a study co-author.

The study reconstructed sea levels going back to 1950s and then stripped away the effects of the PDO to better understand its influence on current sea level increases in the Pacific.

“The conventional wisdom has been that if the PDO was removed from the equation this sea level rise in parts of the Pacific would disappear. But we found that sea level rise off the coasts of the Philippines and northeastern Australia appear to be anthropogenic and would continue even without this oscillation,” says the study’s lead author Ben Hamlington.

The research team estimates that areas of the ocean near the Philippines and northeast Australia are being raised by about 1 cm per year due to human activity, which can increase the intensity of severe weather. “When water starts piling up there and typhoon-like storms are traveling over higher sea levels, it can be a bad situation,” says Hamlington.

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