Scientist investigates changing sea levels with satellites

A new study at the TU Darmstadt's Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering used satellite data to analyse sea level changes, which were traditionally recorded at coastal tide gauge stations by measuring the water level relative to a fixed point of the Earth's crust. It will allow the recording of data in a global reference frame, not only locally.

The sea level has been rising by an average of 3.1 millimetres a year since 1993. Long-term measurements recorded since the start of the 20th century indicate an acceleration in the averaged sea level change. Coastal flooding and land loss are just some of the severe consequences. Satellite data is crucial for protecting coasts from the rising seas, especially in low lying coastal regions as the North Sea coast of Germany for example, or islands in the tropics.

The scientist behind the study, Dr.-Ing. Luciana Fenoglio-Marc, aims to analyse sea level changes and to understand its causes improving the processing of the satellite measurements as well as their use in simulations and forecasting methods. Rising global temperatures in the wake of climate change result in an increased volume of the heated water as well as in a mass increase through the influx of melting continental ice sheet run off, being one of the main causes of rising sea level.