Fairfax Media Network

Weather News

Wet weather in Australia reverses rising sea levels

Brett Worthington, Tuesday September 3, 2013 - 08:06 EST
ABC image
Water fills Lake Eyre in northern South Australia. - ABC
ABC image
Floodwaters consume a road subject to flooding sign on January 13, 2011. Flooding across Australia in 2010 and 2011 led to global sea levels temporarily falling. - ABC

Scientists in the United States have discovered wet weather in Australia temporarily reversed rising sea levels.

Australia recorded its wettest back-to-back years on record in 2010 and 2011.

Dr John Fasullo, from the National Centre for Atmospheric Research, says it's the first time scientists have recorded a fall in sea levels after high rainfall.

"It has its ups and downs over time, but generally its rise has been very steady," he said.

"It's about three millimetres per year, maybe a little bit more than that.

"So it's a complete outlier. There is nothing else in the satellite record that is even comparable to this. It's kind of this big blip.

"Since then, we have actually returned to the long-term trend and gone above it."



Dr Fasullo says floods across Australia contributed to the 18-month sea level drop.

He says most of the flood water remained inland, soaking into the dry outback and filling Lake Eyre, instead of flowing out to the ocean.

"A typical continent is filled with river basins that run off to the ocean and they run off to the ocean relatively quickly, (usually) within a month or two," Dr Fasullo said.

"Australia is not that way and much of Australia doesn't have co-ordinated river run-off at all.

"The western plateau region is very dry and doesn't have the co-ordinated river run-off and in the east you have an interior basin. So there are rivers but the rivers actually run towards the centre of the continent and not out to the ocean.

"So all these things were involved in the sea level drop."


- ABC

© ABC 2013

More breaking news

Sydney Morning Herald
ABC News
National Nine News
News Limited

Display Your Local Weather

Weather News

Cloud suppressing temperatures over Sydney

10:16 EST

While temperatures are already soaring into the high 20's over Illawarra, the mercury is struggling in the low 20's across Sydney this morning.

BoM forecasts September records in NSW with 37C likely in Sydney and 40C in regional areas

09:57 EST

Records are predicted to fall and total fire bans are in place across half of New South Wales as an unseasonal heatwave takes hold.

Bushfire fears as southern Queensland faces significant fire risk over the weekend

09:46 EST

Southern Queensland is in the grip of hot and dry conditions, prompting fears for significant bushfires over the weekend.