The rate of sea level rise in Spain has doubled over the last 20 years

A scientific team from the Mediterranean Climate Change Group (GCC) of the Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO-CSIC), in collaboration with the Mediterranean Institute of Advanced Studies (IMEDEA), confirmed the acceleration of the rate at which sea level rises in the Iberian Peninsula, Canary Islands and Balearic Islands in the last two decades. He work was published in the magazine geosciences.

The study analyzes monthly sea level series in different ports of the Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts of the Iberian Peninsulaas well as the archipelagos of the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands, using data from tide gauges dating back to the early 1940s, as well as altimetric data from satellites since 1993.

Analysis of these time series shows that sea level rose at a rate of 1.6 millimeters per year from 1948 to 2019 while, since that year, the rate of sea level rise is 2.8 millimeters, almost double.

Sea levels rose at a rate of 1.6 mm per year from 1948 to 2019 and have nearly doubled since then.

“The acceleration in the speed with which the sea level rises reflects that the current threat posed by climate change, far from being on the way to a solution, is getting worse”, he explains. manuel vargasphysicist at the IEO-CSIC Oceanographic Center of Malaga and author of the work.

The scientific team also analyzed the contribution of different factors to this sea level rise. In all the regions analysed, part of this increase is due to the water heating, which produces its thermal expansion and the consequent increase in its volume. This contribution was quantified at about 0.8 millimeters per year.

The most important factor is the increase in water mass, presumably caused by the melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets.

However, the most important factor is the increase in water mass, presumably caused by the Melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheetsfactor that would have contributed to the increase of about 1.4 millimeters per year.

Effects of sea level rise

“For countries like ours, with a large coastline, this rise in the sea will have serious effects, such as the retreat of the coast and loss of beaches, or the greater impact of storms on coastal constructions and infrastructure”, points out Vargas.

“This study highlights the need to maintain surveillance and monitoring systems in our seas to know exactly what changes are taking place in them”, concludes the scientist.


Vargas-Yáñez, M, et al. Factors contributing to long-term sea level trends in the Iberian Peninsula and the Balearic and Canary Islands. geosciences (2023)

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