Sea Level Rise


New Study Projects That Melting of Antarctic Ice Shelves Will Intensify

New Study Projects That Melting of Antarctic Ice Shelves Will Intensify

New research published today projects a doubling of surface melting of Antarctic ice shelves by 2050 and by 2100 may surpass intensities associated with ice shelf collapse, if greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel consumption continues at the present rate.

Ice shelves are the floating extensions of the continent’s massive land-based ice sheets. While the melting or breakup of floating ice shelves does not directly raise sea level, ice shelves do have a “door stop” effect: They slow the flow of ice from glaciers and ice sheets into the ocean, where it melts and raises sea levels.

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Sudden Draining of Glacial Lakes Explained

In 2008 scientists from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and the University of Washington documented for the first time how the icy bottoms of lakes atop the Greenland Ice Sheet can crack open suddenly—draining the lakes completely within hours and sending torrents of water to the base of the ice sheet thousands of feet below. Now they have found a surprising mechanism that triggers the cracks.

Scientists had theorized that the sheer weight of the water in these supraglacial lakes applied pressure that eventually cracked the ice, but they could not explain why some lake bottoms cracked while others did not.

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