What the Antarctic Ice Sheet Can Tell Us About Sea Rise to Come
During the last warm period on Earth, the world’s oceans were almost 20 feet higher than what they are today thanks to the melting ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica.
Most of the scientific community assumed that the Greenland Ice Sheet was the main contributor to that sea level rise around 125,000 years ago.
But, new results from a University of Wisconsin-Madison associate professor of geoscience using silt from the ocean floor indicates that the Greenland Ice Sheet may be more stable than the Antarctic Ice Sheet.
Excerpts from the study:
“‘The sediment analysis indicates that “the (Greenland) ice sheet seems to be more stable than some of the greater retreat values that people have presented,’
according to lead researcher Anders Carlson.
The models consistent with the new findings indicate that melting Greenland ice was responsible for a sea level rise of 1.6 to 2.2 meters – at most, roughly half of the minimum four-meter total increase.
Even after accounting for other Arctic ice and the thermal expansion of warmer water, most of the difference must have come from a melting Antarctic ice sheet, Carlson says.
‘The implication of our results is that West Antarctica likely was much smaller than it is today,’ and responsible for much more of the sea level rise than many scientists have thought, he says. ‘If West Antarctica collapsed, that means it’s more unstable than we expected, which is quite scary.'”
The study was published in the July 29th issue of Science.
This post first appeared on Accuweather.com.