Earth we’re getting or Feet Wet


The sea level will rise above its current level if more polar ice melts.  However, compared to the heights of the ice ages, today there are very few continental ice sheets remaining to be melted.  It is estimated that Antarctica, if fully melted, would contribute more than 60 meters of sea level rise, and Greenland would contribute more than 7 meters.  Small glaciers and ice caps on the margins of Greenland and the Antarctic Peninsula might contribute about 0.5 meters.

On the Antarctic continent itself, the large volume of ice present stores around 70% of the world’s fresh water.  This ice sheet is constantly gaining ice from snowfall and losing ice through outflow to the sea. West Antarctica is currently experiencing a net outflow of glacial ice, which will increase global sea level over time.  A review of the scientific studies looking at data from 1992 to 2006 suggested a net loss of around 50 Gigatonnes of ice per year.

 Some Instructions

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Warning Shout

Sea level rise has been going on since the last ice age and most evident in the near beginning of the Holocene Epoch (our era).  Two main factors contributed to observed sea level rise.  The first is thermal expansion; as ocean water warms, it expands.  The second is from the contribution of land-based ice due to increased melting.  The major store of water on land is found in glaciers and ice sheets.

Data from multiple satellites and aircraft shows that the Earth is losing ice at an ever-increasing rate from both poles. The new data show that the ice loss from both poles has increased by a factor of three since the 1990s.  Just Greenland—the largest source of fresh water ice in the Northern Hemisphere is losing ice at a rate five times what it did just in the 1990s,  about 142 billion tons per year.

Together, since 1992,  this ice melt has added over a centimeter (about a half inch) to sea level rise.  That may not sound like much, but it doesn’t take much rise in sea levels to start causing catastrophic changes in erosion, storms, and flooding.  Worse,  this accounts for only about one-fifth of the total amount of sea level rise.  Much of the rise is due to the water in the oceans expanding due to warming and other sources.

Sea level rise is one of several lines of evidence that support the view that the climate has recently warmed.  It is likely that human induced warming contributed to the sea level rise observed in the latter half of the 20th century.

Sea level rise is expected to continue for centuries.

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