In 2002, Munk defined an important enigma of 20th century global mean sea-level (GMSL) rise that has yet to be resolved.

Estimating and accounting for twentieth-century global mean sea-level (GMSL) rise is critical to characterizing current and future human-induced sea-level change. Several previous analyses of tide gauge records—employing different methods to accommodate the spatial sparsity and temporal incompleteness of the data and to constrain the geometry of long-term sea-level change—have concluded that GMSL rose over the twentieth century at a mean rate of 1.6 to 1.9 millimetres per year.