Rain Caused Sea Levels to Drop

by Greg Pollowitz

The latest from the National Science Foundation:

Global sea level rise temporarily dampened by 2010-11 Australia floods

Finding shows complex nature of Earth’s climate interactions

Complex. You don’t say? More. . .

Three atmospheric patterns came together above the Indian and Pacific Oceans in 2010 and 2011.  When they did, they drove so much precipitation over Australia that the world’s ocean levels dropped measurably.

Unlike other continents, the soils and topography of Australia prevent almost all its precipitation from flowing into the ocean.

The 2010-11 event temporarily halted a long-term trend of rising sea levels caused by higher temperatures and melting ice sheets, according to a team of researchers at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colo., and other institutions.

Now that the atmosphere’s circulation has returned to its previous patterns, the seas are again rising.

These results will appear next month in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, published by the American Geophysical Union.

Co-authors of the paper are affiliated with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the University of Colorado at Boulder.

The research was funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), which sponsors NCAR, and by NASA.

“The scientists conclude that the Outback region in Australia played a crucial role in trapping a large amount of rainfall when widespread floods occurred over the continent,” says Anjuli Bamzai, program director in NSF’s Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences, which funded the research.

“It’s a beautiful illustration of how complicated our climate system is,” says NCAR scientist John Fasullo, lead scientist on the project.

The rest here.