The Jet Propulsion Laboratory has a very good new website on global climate change. It offers a nice summary of the relevant science in a variety of areas: key indicators, evidence, causes, effects, uncertainties, and solutions. The website is a good place to send people who are uninformed on global warming, but looking for basic information.

JPL has a very nice front-page banner with pulldown menus providing data on “Vital Signs of the Planet,” including Arctic sea ice, carbon dioxide, sea level rise, global temperature, and the ozone hole. Here is the expanded chart showing the recent 70 percent jump in sea level rise:

sealevelgraphic1.jpg

“The chart [above] shows historical sea level data derived from 23 tide-gauge measurements. The chart on the right shows the average sea level since 1993 derived from global satellite measurements, updated here monthly. Sea level rise is associated with the thermal expansion of sea water due to climate warming and widespread melting of land ice.”

If you go to the key indicators page, you can run your mouse over the final data point, which shows that the trend continues. JPL gets their data from the University of Colorado, which has extended their plot through the end of 2008:

Mean sea level

So sea levels are now rising about 1.3 inches a decade. This is not yet worrisome, but if current emissions trends continue and the rate of sea level rise merely continues the same relationship to global temperature rise that it has had in recent decades, then we could see a total rise of up to five feet by 2100, at which point the rate of sea level rise would exceed six inches a decade, as explained in a 2007 Science article, “A Semi-Empirical Approach to Projecting Future Sea-Level Rise.”

Kudos to JPL.

This post was created for ClimateProgress.org, a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund.