The term “sea level” is sometimes used with and sometimes without the definite article. For example:

a) Longer-term changes in sea level are influenced by Earth’s changing climates.

b) The sea level appears to have been very close to its present position 35,000 years ago. (https://www.britannica.com/science/sea-level)

What might be the difference between these usages?

  • 1
    I think, in (a) it is stating sea level as a term in its scientific/dictionary/geological meaning. In (b), it is about stating a fact about the present condition of the world's 'sea level' (as in the sea level now), not the other state/condition of the sea level (i.e., the sea level in 2016/the sea level in 1945). Let's wait for other opinion/answers.
    – shin
    Commented Jul 1, 2019 at 7:32
  • 1
    It might be helpful to work out if they mean 'the current level of the sea' as in the average level of the sea compared to historical levels, or the aviation term 'Sea Level' which is used to calculate altitude, and is only concerned with the here and now.
    – Smock
    Commented Jul 1, 2019 at 10:42

1 Answer 1


I think that sentence a) you provided follows more the rules of headlinese. It is not 100% grammatical in a standard understanding of the word, but it is acceptable.

I would have written that sentence as:

Longer-term changes in the sea level are influenced by Earth’s changing climates.

  • The sentence is located in the middle of a paragraph.
    – Zak
    Commented Jul 1, 2019 at 22:38
  • 1
    I understand that, but still, the structure does not remind strongly of a standard sentence in English. But it is quite similar with a newspaper headline.
    – virolino
    Commented Jul 2, 2019 at 5:21

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