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Ice sheet melting accounts for 20% of sea level rise since 1992

Ice sheet melting accounts for 20% of sea level rise since 1992

December 10, 2012 - The loss of ice covering Greenland and Antarctica has accelerated over the last 20 years, shrinking three times as much as in the 1990s and contributing substantially to sea level rise, according to a comprehensive new study of ice sheet loss conducted by 26 laboratories around the world.

The study, published Thursday by the journal Science, comes weeks after Hurricane Sandy’s destruction of coastal communities in New York and New Jersey starkly highlighted the risks posed by sea level rise, especially during storm surges.

Ice sheet loss means that ice that melts during the summer thaw does not return in the winter. That results in a net loss of ice in a year-to-year comparison of a given area.

Supported by NASA and the European Space Administration, the study estimates that about 20% of current sea level rise can be attributed to the 344 billion tons of glacial ice lost annually in Greenland and Antarctica.  (The other major factors behind sea level rise are expansion of the oceans as they warm and melting of mountain glaciers, whose waters eventually run into the sea.)

“This study confirms that ice loss is occurring and raising sea levels,” said John Abraham, associate professor of thermal sciences at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn., and a spokesman for the Climate Science Rapid Response Team, an information clearinghouse. “For those people who thought that ice sheets were not contributing to sea level rise, they are dead wrong.

Sources and more information:

Greenland and Antarctica 'have lost four trillion tonnes of ice' in 20 years

Greenland and Antarctica 'have lost four trillion tonnes of ice' in 20 years From the Guardian More than four trillon tonnes of ice from Greenland and Antarctica has melted in the past 20 years and flowed into the oceans , pushing up sea levels, according to a study that provides the best measure to date of the effect climate change is having on...

Ice sheet melt massively overestimated, satellites show

The possible acceleration in ice losses is barely perceptible: it may not really be happening at all. New science upsets calculations on sea level rise, climate change Nov 28, 2012 By Lewis Page A new analysis of data from dedicated satellites shows that one of the main factors predicted to drive rising sea levels in future has...

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