Thursday, November 20, 2008

Melting ice now main driver of rising sea levels: study

Terra Daily, via Agence France-Presse: Runoff from ice caps in Antarctica and Greenland along with melting mountain glaciers have replaced expanding oceans as the main driver of rising sea levels, according to a new study. The rate at which the global ocean water mark rises could have a devastating impact on hundreds of millions of people living in low-lying areas around the world.

Earlier research had shown that sea levels crept up and average of 3.1 millimetres (0.12 inches) per year from 1993 to 2003. More than half of that increase came from a process called thermal expansion whereby the ocean gains in mass as climate change pushes global temperatures upward.

The other half, climate scientists calculated, was caused by land ice, especially dwindling glaciers in mountain ranges such as the Himalayas and Andes. The new study, drawing on data from two new observational systems, shows that thermal expansion -- which is cyclical over periods measured in decades -- essentially stopped after 2003….

Isfjord, Ilulissat, Diskobay, West Greenland. Huge icebergs (up to 600 ft. high) and calf ice moving out of the Isfjord (Kangia) to the sea. Shot by Michael Haferkamp, Wikimedia Commons, under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2

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