This increase in sea level is a consequence of global warming. When sea temperature rises, the sea expands and therefore occupies a greater volume. This phenomenon is now well known to scientists, but other processes that have received less research attention, such as the tidal cycle, seem to contribute at global scale just as much to changes in sea level.
A team coordinated by IRD scientists compared a series of satellite images collected at regular intervals over 20 years to measure the contribution of the bidecennial tidal cycle on global sea-level variations. In the first phase of the study, the scientists focused on the 350 km of French Guianan coastline found to be highly suitable for observation of the phenomenon.
This is a virgin region completely unaffected by any human activity and bears the certainty that the slightest change observed in the geomorphology of that coast is natural in origin. The geographical zone is moreover covered by an ecosystem of mangroves whose coastal fringe reacts almost immediately to fluctuations in marine conditions.
The study used 60 images taken by Spot, Landsat, ASAR and JERS satellites to follow-up the changes and developments of the mangrove areas over the 20-year period from 1986 to 2006, in other words a complete bidecennial tidal cycle. In parallel and over the same period, altimetric satellites (Ssalto data produced by Aviso) gave a measure of the change in the sea level. By comparing and contrasting the data resulting from these two types of satellite device, the scientists arrived at a measure of the process’s contribution of the physical features of the coastline.
Their analysis indicated that a 3% increase in tidal amplitude on the French Guiana coast, and along the whole of the 1500 km stretch of coastline of the Guiana Plateau, induced more than 100 m of coastal erosion and shoreline retreat during the first ten years of the cycle. A subsequent 3% fall in the course of the second half of the cycle then allowed regeneration of the mangrove colonies, a sure sign of coastal advance.
The results also suggested that 75% of the rise of the open sea level recorded for this coastal zone during the first ten years of the cycle was attributable to the tidal cycle.
Extrapolation of the results obtained for the Guiana Plateau coast led to an estimate of the impact of the tidal cycle on the sea level rise at global scale (see Map).
Coastal zones exist where the tidal range is much more spectacular in size than on the Guianan coasts. At Mont Saint-Michel in France, for example, it can be more than 12 m. And in Ungava Bay, on the East coast of Canada, where the world’s largest tidal amplitudes are recorded, it reaches as high as 20 m. In these regions, from the present day (2008) to 2015, the bidecennial tidal cycle could cause a rise in the open sea level of more than 50 cm, or 25 times greater than the rise linked to global-warming induced oceanic thermal expansion. Over the period 2015-2025, the second phase of this cycle is predicted to contribute to a regular fall in the open sea level.
At planetary scale, it could thus partly compensate for the effects of the global-warming related rise in the sea water. Thanks to a better awareness of the cyclic nature of the tides, probably one of the most predictable cyclic systems in the world, this research should, over the next 20 years, lead to a better understanding of coastal geomorphology and in particular the processes of coastal erosion.
1. This work was conducted jointly with the University of Dunkirk, the Institut National de Recherche Agronomique (INRA) and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (United States)
2. This is a tidal cycle established highly precisely at 18.6 years during which the average level of open seas rises by 3% per year for the first half of this cycle then falls by 3% over the 9 years that follow.
Grégory Fléchet | alfa
Scientists team up on study to save endangered African penguins
16.11.2017 | Florida Atlantic University
Climate change: Urban trees are growing faster worldwide
13.11.2017 | Technische Universität München
Heat from the friction of rocks caused by tidal forces could be the “engine” for the hydrothermal activity on Saturn's moon Enceladus. This presupposes that...
The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.
Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....
The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.
Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...
Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.
That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...
Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.
During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....
15.11.2017 | Event News
15.11.2017 | Event News
30.10.2017 | Event News
23.11.2017 | Information Technology
23.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.11.2017 | Life Sciences