Bulletin contributor and Harvard University earth and planetary sciences professor Jerry X. Mitrovica was just awarded a MacArthur “genius” Fellowship yesterday for his work on sea level rise, and the reasons why it happens unequally across the globe—due to differences in the Earth’s crust, undersea topography, ocean circulation, and the way glaciers melt and oceans heat up in each place, among other things. Consequently, some regions may see their local sea level rise by as much as 10 times greater than the average, while other may experience sea levels 10 times smaller. After all, an average of three feet of global sea level rise by the year 2100—to name one figure commonly cited in the mass media—is just that: It’s an average. Some places could see much worse.
Mitrovica and his three co-authors explain more in their May 2018 Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist’s magazine article on the topic, “All sea level is local.”
In honor of the occasion, we are making the article free to access through the end of October, 2019.