West Antarctic Ice Sheet Not Likely to Melt Completely, But Sea Rise Still Significant

15 05 2009

20090514-antarctica

There’s some good news/bad news on the melting Antarctic ice sheets being reported over at New Scientist. Though the West Antarctic ice sheet probably won’t entirely collapse into the ocean all at once (that’s the good news), the parts that are most likely to be released will cause some serious sea level rise:

If the whole ice sheet melted estimates of the resulting sea level rise place in in the range of 5.5 meters, but that’s an overestimation of what’s likely to happen. That’s the word from Bristol University’s Jonathan Bamber in a new article in Science. But what is more likely to happen is about two thirds of the ice sheet is vulnerable to melting; and when that happens it could raise global sea levels 3.3 meters.

Sea Level This Century Still in the 1 Meter Range
I suppose the other (partially) good news in this is that this level of ice melt isn’t likely to happen until at minimum sometime in the next century. And according to David Vaughan of the British Antarctic Survey, this new work doesn’t really change sea level rise predictions over the next century, which remain at about 1 meter globally.

via: New Scientist


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