An international effort that brought together more than 60 ice, ocean and atmosphere scientists from three dozen international institutions has generated new estimates of how much of an impact Earth’s melting ice sheets could have on global sea levels by 2100.
An international effort that brought together more than 60 ice, ocean and atmosphere scientists from three dozen international institutions has generated new estimates of how much of an impact Earth’s melting ice sheets could have on global sea levels by 2100. If greenhouse gas emissions continue apace, Greenland and Antarctica’s ice sheets could together contribute more than 15 inches (38 centimeters) of global sea level rise – and that’s beyond the amount that has already been set in motion by Earth’s warming climate.
Results from this effort are in line with projections in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) 2019 Special Report on Oceans and the Cryosphere. Meltwater from ice sheets contribute about a third of the total global sea level rise. The IPCC report projected that Greenland would contribute 3.1 to 10.6 inches (8 to 27 cm) to global sea level rise between 2000-2100 and Antarctica could contribute 1.2 to 11 inches (3 to 28 cm).
These new results, published this week in a special issue of the journal The Cryosphere, come from the Ice Sheet Model Intercomparison Project (ISMIP6) led by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. The study is one of many efforts scientists are involved in to project the impact of a warming climate on melting ice sheets, understand its causes and track sea level rise.
“One of the biggest uncertainties when it comes to how much sea level will rise in the future is how much the ice sheets will contribute,” said project leader and ice scientist Sophie Nowicki, now at the University at Buffalo, and formerly at NASA Goddard. “And how much the ice sheets contribute is really dependent on what the climate will do.”
Read more at NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Image: Ice shelves in Antarctica, such as the Getz Ice Shelf seen here, are sensitive to warming ocean temperatures. Ocean and atmospheric conditions are some of the drivers of ice sheet loss that scientists considered in a new study estimating additional global sea level rise by 2100. (Credit: Jeremy Harbeck/NASA)