The massive polar ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica contain the vast majority of frozen water on the planet. But a new study shows melting from the world’s glaciers and ice caps will be a bigger factor in sea level rise this century. The thinnest glaciers and tidewater glaciers will be most dramatically affected. We spoke with researcher Shad O’Neel about the paper’s conclusions and implications.
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
“Glaciers Dominate Eustatic Sea-Level Rise in the 21st Century”
Ice loss to the sea currently accounts for virtually all of sea-level rise not attributable to ocean warming; about 60% of the ice loss is from glaciers and ice caps rather than from the two ice sheets. The contribution of these smaller glaciers has accelerated over the last decade, in part due to dramatic thinning and retreat of marine-terminating glaciers associated with a dynamic instability generally not considered in mass balance/climate modeling. This acceleration of glacier melt may cause 0.1-0.25 m of additional sea-level rise by 2100. Full abstract here (paper available for a fee).