More data needed to study Sea Level Rise

There is a need for more ocean data to track sea level rise in the Pacific, according to Doctor Stephen Piotrowicz of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

USP Journalism's Duane Mar interviewed Piotrowicz, who said that the ocean information buoy network, called Argo has given priority on data gathering in the South Pacific.

“Vast areas of the South and West Pacific have been either not sampled, or are dramatically under sampled,” he said.

Piotrowicz said that the data regarding changes in temperature and salt levels being recorded at deep sea levels are important in understanding sea level rise but was very limited.

“There is expansion of the oceans due to increased salt, but you also have to understand the distribution of water around the globe,” he said.

“Right now, we cannot account for about 25% of the heat that's flowing into the oceans. The hypothesis is that it is going into the deep ocean, and in particular, the South Pacific and South Atlantic," he said.

Piotrowicz said that NOAA has data on the Pacific region, but the problems were that it was limited data and also had uncertainties.

“We do know that global average sea level is rising about 3 millimetres per year but regional sea level variability is varying so it may be rising some places and falling in others,” he said.

He said newer additions to the senses would allow Argo and NOAA to better understand ocean acidification and potentially ocean carbon levels as well.

Argo is a system for observing ocean temperatures, salinity and currents, and distributes its information freely for all meteorological services to use. The data is recorded in near real-time.