Thermal expansion is the tendency of matter to change in volume in response to a change in temperature.
In the context of sea level rise, thermal expansion is the process by which the absolute sea level increases as water temperature increases. At the end of the 20th century, thermal expansion and melting of land ice contributed roughly equally to sea level rise, while thermal expansion is expected to contribute more than half the rise in the upcoming century.
Find out more
- IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, Working Group 1 report The Physical Science Basis , Chapter 10