Science

Ice sheets are melting at a worst case scenario rate

Ice sheets are melting at a worst case scenario rate”

Melting Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are living up to the United Nation's worse case sea level rise scenario, according to researchers.

A study from the University of Leeds and the Danish Meteorological Institute found that if current trends continue, a further 17cm of sea level rise could occur by the end of this century, forcing nearly 20 million people across the globe to leave their homes.

Since the ice sheets were first monitored by satellite in the 1990s, melting from Antarctica has pushed global sea levels up by 7.2mm, while Greenland has contributed 10.6mm. The latest measurements show the world's oceans are now increasing by 4 mm per year. Is a climate researcher at the Center for Polar Observation and Modeling at the University of Leeds.

The study, published in the journal Nature Climate change, The sheet of ice compares the latest results of mass satellite surveys with the calculation of weather models.

Global sea levels have historically mostly increased due to a mechanism called thermal expansion, which means that volume of seawater expands as it gets warmer. This is enough to double the frequency of storm surges in the world's largest coastal cities.

"This means the melting of ice has now taken over as the main contributor of sea level rise".

A study published last month found that Greenland lost one million tons of ice per minute in 2019, producing enough water to power more than four feet of water in the US state of California.

But Ruth Motram, a meteorologist at the Danish Meteorological Institute, said: "Antarctica and Greenland are not the only ones raising water levels".

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'In recent years, thousands of smaller glaciers have begun to melt or disappear altogether, as we saw with the glacier Ok in Iceland, which was declared "dead" in 2014.

That is almost three times more than mid-range projections from the IPCC's last major Assessment Report in 2014, which predicted a 70 centimetre rise in sea level from all sources, including mountain glaciers and the expansion of ocean water as it warms.

A separate study published last week by USA researchers threatens to rapidly destroy Antarctic ice sheets, including "huge impacts on the sea surface", by global warming.

If all of this ice were to melt, it would cause sea levels to rise by a staggering seven metres, which could have major implications for the UK.

Despite this clear mismatch between the observed reality of accelerating ice sheet disintegration and the models tracking those trends, a special IPCC report past year on the planet's frozen regions maintained the same end-of-century projections for Greenland, and allowed for only a small increase from Antarctica under the highest greenhouse gas emissions scenario.

Rising temperatures could push meltwater into fractures in the shelves' surface, making them vulnerable to collapse, warned scientists at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

This would leave a lot of homes all over the world underwater.



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