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Natural climate shifts affect sea level rise

When natural climate variations are taken into account, sea level rise, which greatly affects low-lying islands like those of Tuvalu, does not appear to be slowing down.

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Guest post by Beth Mole

A recent dip in the rate of sea level rise may be due to natural climate variability.

Between 2003 and 2011, the oceans’ waters rose around 2.4 millimeters per year, a 30 percent slowdown from the previous decade.

However, when researchers accounted for natural variability, including the El Niño–Southern Oscillation, the dip disappeared. The results appear March 23 in Nature Climate Change.

The finding reaffirms that climate change is ongoing, the scientists say, and highlights the importance of natural variability in short-term climate trends.

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