Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Melting icebergs in polar oceans causing sea level rise globally, new assessment finds

Date:
April 29, 2010
Source:
University of Leeds
Summary:
Scientists have discovered that changes in the amount of ice floating in the polar oceans are causing sea levels to rise -- by a mere hair's breadth today, but possibly much more if melting trends continue.

Iceberg on the Antarctic Peninsula.
Credit: iStockphoto

Scientists have discovered that changes in the amount of ice floating in the polar oceans are causing sea levels to rise -- by a mere hair's breadth today, but possibly much more if melting trends continue.

The research, published in Geophysical Research Letters, is the first assessment of how quickly floating ice is being lost today.

According to Archimedes' principle, any floating object displaces its own weight of fluid. For example, an ice cube in a glass of water does not cause the glass to overflow as it melts. But because sea water is warmer and more salty than floating ice, changes in the amount of this ice are having an effect on global sea levels.

The loss of floating ice is equivalent to 1.5 million Titanic-sized icebergs each year. However, the study shows that spread across the global oceans, recent losses of floating ice amount to a sea level rise of just 49 microns (μm) per year -- about a hair's breadth.

According to lead author Professor Andrew Shepherd, of the University of Leeds, it would be unwise to discount this signal. "Over recent decades there have been dramatic reductions in the quantity of Earth's floating ice, including collapses of Antarctic ice shelves and the retreat of Arctic sea ice," said Prof Shepherd.

"These changes have had major impacts on regional climate and, because oceans are expected to warm considerably over the course of the 21st century, the melting of floating ice should be considered in future assessments of sea level rise."

Professor Shepherd and his team used a combination of satellite observations and a computer model to make their assessment. They looked at changes in the area and thickness of sea ice and ice shelves, and found that the overall signal amounts to a 742 cubic kilometres per year reduction in the volume of floating.

Because of differences in the density and temperature of ice and sea water, the net effect is to increase sea level by 2.6% of this volume, equivalent to 49 microns per year spread across the global oceans.

The greatest losses were due to the rapid retreat of Arctic Sea ice and to the collapse and thinning of ice shelves at the Antarctic Peninsula and in the Amundsen Sea.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Leeds. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Andrew Shepherd, Duncan Wingham, David Wallis, Katharine Giles, Seymour Laxon, Aud Venke Sundal. Recent loss of floating ice and the consequent sea level contribution. Geophysical Research Letters, 2010; (in press) DOI: 10.1029/2010GL042496

Cite This Page:

University of Leeds. "Melting icebergs in polar oceans causing sea level rise globally, new assessment finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 April 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100428142258.htm>.
University of Leeds. (2010, April 29). Melting icebergs in polar oceans causing sea level rise globally, new assessment finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100428142258.htm
University of Leeds. "Melting icebergs in polar oceans causing sea level rise globally, new assessment finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100428142258.htm (accessed August 23, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Airlines on Iceland Volcano Alert

Airlines on Iceland Volcano Alert

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 22, 2014) Iceland evacuates an area north of the country's Bardarbunga volcano, as the country's civil protection agency says it cannot rule out an eruption. Authorities have already warned airlines. As Joel Flynn reports, ash from the eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in 2010 shut down much of Europe's airspace for six days. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Endangered Red Wolves Face Uncertain Future

Endangered Red Wolves Face Uncertain Future

AP (Aug. 22, 2014) A federal judge temporarily banned coyote hunting to save endangered red wolves, but local hunters say that the wolf preservation program does more harm than good. Meanwhile federal officials are reviewing its wolf program in North Carolina. (Aug. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Coal Gas Boom in China Holds Climate Risks

Coal Gas Boom in China Holds Climate Risks

AP (Aug. 22, 2014) China's energy revolution could do more harm than good for the environment, despite the country's commitment to reducing pollution and curbing its carbon emissions. (Aug. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Microbrewery Chooses Special Can for Its Beer

Microbrewery Chooses Special Can for Its Beer

AP (Aug. 22, 2014) Aluminum giant, Novelis, has partnered with Red Hare Brewing Company to introduce the first certified high-content recycled beverage can. (Aug. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins