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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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The Jetyak

The Jetyak

Oceanographers are always looking for cost-effective vehicles to help them explore risky regions. Scientists at WHOI have developed one: a robotic platform called the Jetyak.

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A Mooring in Iceberg Alley

A Mooring in Iceberg Alley

WHOI scientists knowingly put a mooring in a fjord filled with icebergs near the terminus of a Greeland glacier. But it was their only way to learn if changing ocean conditions might be affecting how fast the glacier flowed into the ocean.

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The Changing Face of Greenland

As Greenland’s massive ice sheet experiences accelerated melting in a warming climate, WHOI glaciologist Sarah Das investigates the complex interactions…

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Rising Sea Levels and Moving Shorelines

Rising Sea Levels and Moving Shorelines

Changes to the shoreline are inevitable and inescapable. Shoals and sandbars become islands and then sandbars again. Ice sheets grow and shrink, causing sea level to fall and rise as water moves from the oceans to the ice caps and back to the oceans. Barrier islands rise from the seafloor, are chopped by inlets, and retreat toward the mainland. Even the calmest of seas are constantly moving water, sand, and mud toward and away from the shore, and establishing new shorelines.

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