Whilst it is widely accepted that sea level is rising because of the melting of the massive sheets covering Greenland and Antarctica, a new paper in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, by scientists at Bangor University in collaboration with Harvard and Oregon State Universities in the US, and McGill University in Canada, shows that the impact of the melting of these ice sheets will go far beyond just changing water levels. It could have further reaching impacts on global climate.
The new results show that sea level does not increase uniformly across the globe in response to melting of the polar ice sheets. In fact, sea level changes in response to ice loss are highly spatially variable, especially close to the retreating ice sheets. The new results, which are obtained with a numerical model of the global tides, show that the tidal changes due to ice sheet collapse and associated sea level changes will be highly variable and affect a number of different important processes.
Along some coastlines the tidal range will be greatly amplified, for example the North Walian coastline, whilst along other coastlines such as South Wales, the tidal range will be reduced. Moreover many functions of the ocean will be altered by the changes in the tides.
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Image via Jess Mead Silvester