Breakthrough for Sea-Level Rise

Research output: Chapter in Book/Entry/PoemChapter


Chapter 4 covers the 1992–1994 period. TOPEX/Poseidon was not expected to be able to measure sea-level rise. A prime goal was to study large currents and how they might impact climate. But the satellite resolution was so precise, many scientists realized that they could detect with clarity climate change’s impact on the oceans. In 1994, a NASA-based scientist found a way to translate complex data into sea-level measurements. Doing so was a breakthrough and it attracted not only scientific but media attention. Meanwhile, NASA Administrator Dan Goldin forced out Tilford and proclaimed EOS the kind of “big science” that conflicted with his faster, better, cheaper (FBC) mantra. TOPEX/Poseidon was a success from the Goldin FBC perspective.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPalgrave Studies in the History of Science and Technology
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages12
StatePublished - 2023

Publication series

NamePalgrave Studies in the History of Science and Technology
VolumePart F1542
ISSN (Print)2730-972X
ISSN (Electronic)2730-9738


  • Big science
  • Daniel (Dan) Goldin
  • Faster better cheaper (FBC)
  • Shelby Tilford

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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