Heavy rains from the Amazon to Australia have curbed sea level rise so far this century by shifting water from the oceans to land, according to a study that rejects theories that the slowdown is tied to a pause in global warming.

Sea level rise has been one of the clearest signs of climate change – water expands as it warms and parts of Greenland and Antarctica are thawing, along with glaciers from the Himalayas to the Alps.

But in a puzzle to climate scientists, the rate slowed to 2.4 millimeters (0.09 inch) a year from 2003 to 2011 from 3.4 mm from 1994-2002, heartening skeptics who doubt that deep cuts are needed in mankind’s rising greenhouse gas emissions.

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