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What Is Sea Level, Anyway?

19203 ratings | 576757 views
In Calipatria, California, the town is below sea level -- but their flag pole isn't. But what does "sea level" mean? Is it just theory, or is there more behind it? I'm at http://tomscott.com on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tomscott on Facebook at http://facebook.com/tomscott and on Snapchat and Instagram as tomscottgo
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Text Comments (776)
Purple Fire 28 (22 days ago)
Before this video I got the most amazing ad that painted IT work as superhuman. It was great. It's called "What's it mean to work in IT?" by Sophos.
Ben (1 month ago)
Love your videos Tom. Thanks for the great work.
Gplor (2 months ago)
259 dislikes from flat earthers
Rob Johnson (3 months ago)
Isn't death valley lower @ 85m below sea level?
0MindSwept0 (3 months ago)
Sea level is the level of the sea is at, dummy
Dracopol (3 months ago)
There is also "slosh" where the Earth's spin means that water sloshes from the east edge of oceans over to the west edge, so there is higher sea level in the west.
Brad Condon (4 months ago)
So if mountains have strong enough gravity to attract the oceans, why does every little bit of water flow off and away from them? If their gravity can pull the massive amount of water contained in oceans, how come small little brooks, rain etc. flow doen and away from them? Can you show me an experiment which proved that mountains can attract or pull any water, oceans or otherwise, towards them?
Brad Condon (3 months ago)
Dracopol because its not settled science, if you use the scientific method- repeatable, observable, verifiable experiments. Siesmic data can only show a few miles down at best. To say whats hundreds and thousands of miles under the surface is guesswork. If every gram of matter attracts every other gram of matter, there should be many experiments which would clearly show this, not just one old debunked one (cavendish). If you use critical thinking skills, and dont just repeat what you've been told like a proud parrot, you'll realize how stupid it sounds when you claim that mountains can pull entire oceans towards them, but every drop of rain that falls on them runs immediatly down and away from them.
Dracopol (3 months ago)
Brad Condon The Cavendish experiment really has measured how much gravitational pull each gram exerts on every other gram of matter. We know accurately the gravitational constant and the mass of the round Earth. We have also measured seismic vibrations sent down into the Earth to know the consistency and materials in each layer. I don't see what you're trying to get at, doubting settled science.
Brad Condon (3 months ago)
Dracopol How do you know whats inside the earth? The farthest anyone has ever gone down into the earth is 8 miles.... To say its rock and magma all tje way to the core is a guess, there is no proof. Just like there is no proof that every gram of matter pulls on every other gram of matter. Show me an experiment which demonstrates this...
Brad Condon (3 months ago)
Dracopol Thats ridiculous.If mountains can pull oceans, they should be able to pull puddles. Can you show me an experiment that proves mountains pulling water? Can you show me any experiment that shows any mass pulling another mass?
Dracopol (3 months ago)
He didn't say the two effects were comparable. Every single gram of matter attracts and pulls on every other gram of matter. The predominant amount of matter is straight down: rock and magma all the way down to the core of the Earth and beyond, and to each side: the sphere of the Earth. So water flows down, all things fall down, but not perfectly vertically. Mountains can exert some small sideways attraction of water. Seacoasts with mountains will have a slightly higher sea-level than seacoasts that don't.
Jake Taylor (4 months ago)
I see Trevor from gta 5s house
fhhsvnggbh (4 months ago)
So what's got me wondering is, does the rest of the world use this level as sea level or is sea level national
Melvin Meyers (4 months ago)
Earth is flat
Hagger Wood Working (4 months ago)
Sea level is 63, duh
Matheus Bitencourt (5 months ago)
Earth is flat
Know Whey (5 months ago)
C level represents my grade 10 report card.
JonatasAdoM (5 months ago)
You can't say the sea level is symbolic! Doesn't it affects the temperature and time required to boil water?
Dracopol (3 months ago)
In lower altitudes water will boil at a slightly higher temperature, so it will take less time to boil things.
JonatasAdoM (5 months ago)
Earth is a round potato, done.
Michael Higgins (7 months ago)
Another really great and informative video and also highly entertaining! Well done !
John McElroy (7 months ago)
Derek (Veritasium) did a video on whether the Salton Sea should exist or not. Check it out!
Dylan Millette (7 months ago)
My grade
Eliphas Leary (7 months ago)
Really? The difference between earth's "hight" and "width" is 42 Km? 42? That's the answer?
Nin9ty (8 months ago)
The earth is flat...
Ott (3 months ago)
Nin9ty nice bait
MrEd (8 months ago)
I'm going to be an ass and point out that sea level rise is not inevitable. The rise has paused for years now and it starting to drop as the earth enters the cooling phase expected with Grand Solar Minimum (mostly due to cosmic ray effect on clouds, but soon to be on volcanos as cosmic rays heat up silica rich magma)
Aidan Cannatelli (8 months ago)
“It’s vaguely a sphere, don’t get too excited flat-earthers”
aquatic punga (8 months ago)
there was this story I heard from my former physics teacher that two cities in two different countries (Switzerland and Germany) decided to build a bridge over the river that seperates them. They both started from their end and when they met in the middle, the one bridge was (not sure anymore exactly how much) around 0.5-1 meter taller because they both used a different "sealevel". (Afterwards they built the bridge again, but with the same data)
Kinda irreverent but there is a wonderful poem by Sophia Stid named "Salton Sea" and it's quite lovely
Silver Game Dog (8 months ago)
Love your videos but mostly I’m reminded how dumb I am...
Random sfx (8 months ago)
I'm scared. My battery is on 55% 😂
MERTIN (8 months ago)
Call they flat earthers out yeah boy haha
Xoron (8 months ago)
Different references of sea level can turn into problems: Germany references the North Sea, Switzerland references the Mediterranean. When building a bridge over the Rhine across the border, they miscalcualted the discrepancy and ended up with misfitted bridge heads.
Craig Andrews (8 months ago)
Maybe it is from the level you can see.
Eli Malinsky (8 months ago)
Here in Israel we have the lowest point on land, 410m below sea level, which is actually in a lake, so not exactly land, but also not exactly sea, even though it is called the Dead Sea.
Ram Karlo (8 months ago)
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phillip stafford-dafoe (8 months ago)
"The Earth is not a sphere" Yes I was right it's flat "Don't get to excited flat earthers" Tom why do you have to this to me
Lynda O (9 months ago)
You're so good, Tom. Thanks.
ConnorConnor (9 months ago)
1M subs as of now!
ConnorConnor (9 months ago)
1,004,886, to be exact.
gaia35 (9 months ago)
OH!! what an end to that video!! XD damn!
Everything Cool (9 months ago)
wow a fake sea is the beach also fake
el sobaka (9 months ago)
"What... *is*... sea level?" That would've been a good time for the Vsauce music to kick in.
KnuxMaster 368 (9 months ago)
The only problem is... that isn't the lowest elevation in Western Hemisphere. That goes to Death Valley. Where you are is the lowest elevation in the Western Hemisphere that is habitable.
quine (9 months ago)
ew that was kinda gross pandering you did there at the end :/
Frostburn 12345 (9 months ago)
As a dutch guy I have been living below sea level for 24 years. Not one flooding since my birth.
ccho617 (9 months ago)
Congrats on a million subscribers! Thanks for making great videos for everyone to enjoy!
Max Chill (9 months ago)
Kinda surprised you never mentioned a barometer.
Ricardo Schmidt (9 months ago)
OMG 1m subs
Wouter Veeneman (9 months ago)
Congrats on 1 million subscribers
Ninja_Goose (9 months ago)
Congratulations on 1 million subscribers Tom!
abit wishy-washy (9 months ago)
1 millionth.
orrd (9 months ago)
It's more than "symbolic". A neat way to think about it is that if you were to dig a canal from the Pacific ocean to that city, it would flood the city about 55 meters deep... that's the sea level.
jayhrod26 (9 months ago)
You should make a things you might not know for when you get 1 mil subs
YGK (9 months ago)
Ehm basicly the whole netherlands... ow nevermind the netherlands is *below* sea level
Landwelder (9 months ago)
<3 Flat Earth. One of the most exciting theories I have come across.
Sable (9 months ago)
yay Tom Scott is yay good youtuber
ישעיהו פבזנר (9 months ago)
came to israel to the lowest point in the world
lolatomroflsinnlos (9 months ago)
Can you define the sea level as some distance from the center of the earth?
Roudi Sulaiman (9 months ago)
The Dead Sea is 430.5 meters below sea level. Very thick air down there.
mmmcounts (9 months ago)
Zakir Naik calls it a Geosphere, you think he's right about that?
dot nothing (9 months ago)
I love the classic HTML of that NASA site.
Harvlife Fred (9 months ago)
like what you said at the end there
DaRandomLOL (9 months ago)
I just started learning about sea level in Earth Science
Lyle Read-Challen (9 months ago)
One extra factor Tom didn't mention is the rotation of the Earth. If you imagine a tub filled to the brim with water, and pull it sharply, the water will slosh over the opposite side. This is because the inertia of the water tries to keep it from being accelerated.So, even when you correct for all the effects in the video, the Western shore of the Atlantic is higher than the Eastern (but only by a tiny amount).
pkunkbwok (9 months ago)
Y=63 <3
Katie Kat (9 months ago)
I am waiting patiently for sea levels to rise so that my house here in Bradenton, Florida will be beach front property. Is that too much to ask in a lifetime?
ProCactus (9 months ago)
that pole is not 55 meters high
Scootaloo (8 months ago)
It would be just a bit higher actually, since the ground is 55 meters below sea level while the American flag is just a bit higher than that. Hence why it would stay dry.
siimbs (9 months ago)
so that means mount everest is not 8 848m tall, it's always 8 848 +/- 80m tall..O_o
vibhupande (9 months ago)
all you had to do was explain how pressure levels are measured and the standard sea level, but no.. you explain geometry of all earth and complicate it
Stapler (9 months ago)
damn it Tom, stop messing up my paradigm
Ben G (9 months ago)
Great video! Thanks Tom.
Param Aggarwal (9 months ago)
Can't wait for 1 million subs!
Dalton Weathersby (9 months ago)
Hence why Mauna Kea is taller than Everest, but not higher
Geneticus0 (9 months ago)
I realize I am 90 degrees off, but I thought I'd mention that the red bar down the side of the thumbnail made me think I had watched this video before.
IntarwebUser (9 months ago)
I just assumed it's in comparison to the nearest ocean.
Mars Silvergold (9 months ago)
"Sea level? The place where I am champion" - Cain Velazquez
DanatronOne (9 months ago)
Tom Scott is always fantastic at taking everyday things that I thought we collectively didn't have a problem with, and making them complicated.
swingstylez (9 months ago)
I had no idea it was so complex to determine sea level!
Pabst Blue Ribbon (9 months ago)
Why don't we just define sea level as anywhere that lets water boil at 212°F
Carl McKay (9 months ago)
Are you related to Edd China?
Jay Rod (9 months ago)
The fact that there's still people who believe the earth is round is ludicrous.
TickTick BOOM (9 months ago)
Please do a video on Esperanto
Raymond K Petry (9 months ago)
...sea level (freely drained ocean level) is essential for measuring weights—'a pound is a pound the world around'...at sea level... (but where is that with respect to tides)
Mike Page (9 months ago)
At -86m, Badwater is lower but not a city.
fireyf (9 months ago)
Look at the flat earth nuts coming out of the woodwork because Tom mentioned them. Can we please stick them all in a rocket to space so they can see the earth is round... and then shoot them all out an air lock?
Dominus Satanas (9 months ago)
I was just thinking about this the other day, weird.
Gary F (9 months ago)
Wow. Thank you for this. A video about sea levels that didn't try to push global warming.
DukeLaCrosse20 (9 months ago)
Depends on if you're kneeling when looking at the flag or not.  Maybe by a meter.
Strayy (9 months ago)
Its the worst part of the game
RJL738 (9 months ago)
Hah, literally blue-balling the flat Earthers. (blue ball not just as in chastity but a blue planet)
ThomasHaberkorn (9 months ago)
what happened to WGS84?
Infinite Pawns (9 months ago)
Well after watching 65 videos I finally learned something new. Thank you. gg
Wilson Scraddock (9 months ago)
Shut up Jamie Oliver get back in the kitchen.
Reese McClain (9 months ago)
Tom should be a How It’s Made narrator
David Lowery (9 months ago)
Interesting video as always. I suspect most times we refer to sea level we're actually referring to the local standard as opposed to the global model. In Australia the Australian height datum is based on the average height of sea level at 30 odd tide gauges sometime back in the 60s. Similar datums exist in most countries and are used in the spatial products, maps etc, that country produces. When people say they're however many metres or feet relative to sea level it's almost certainly this datum they're referring to.
AERO BLKHWK32 (9 months ago)
Was that an NFL diss at the end? 🤔🤔😂
Heliocentric (9 months ago)
WHAT ???!! Earth isn't flat ???? I'm confused 0_o
ted marks (9 months ago)
How do we test for the mountains gravity pulling on the water as you stated?
KAL EL (9 months ago)
Sea Level Cain, where you at?
93Legit (9 months ago)
i dont think it would be covered in water. the more room for water there is, the lower the water goes
Charlie Vela (9 months ago)
Now I'm more confused than before I clicked this vid
Mark Reviews (9 months ago)
I love that I legitimately learned something that blew my mind today. Thank you!
wilson suarez (9 months ago)
Yes
MrEthanhines (9 months ago)
Doesn't sea level have something to do with air pressure? Like when you are in a plane it measures the air pressure and determines how high you are above "SEA LEVEL" not "Ground Level"
Cannon Leavitt (9 months ago)
Why don’t you get a new shirt

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