The melting threat from West Antarctic Ice Sheet may be less than expected.
According to a recent study in Science: the sea level will not rise 5-meter to 6-meter when the western ice sheet of Antarctica melts, but would only raise sea levels by 3.3 meters, or about 11 feet, even on a thousand-year timescale.
Antarctica holds about nine times the volume of ice of Greenland. Its western ice sheet, known as WAIS, is of particular interest to scientists due to its inherent instability, a result of large areas of the continent’s bedrock lying below sea level. But the ice sheet’s potential contribution to sea level rise has been greatly overestimated, according to new calculations.
Wrong calculations have assumed a 5-meter to 6-meter contribution to sea level rise, new and better calculation looks at what part of the ice is above sea level.
When the sea level on the Dutch coast rises more than three meters, we have a big problem. The rich Netherlands might still be able to solve the problem with higher sea walls, but not in Bangladesh.
Regional variations in sea level would largely be driven by the distribution of ice mass from the Antarctic continent to the oceans, according to the study. With less mass at the South Pole, Earth’s gravity field would weaken in the Southern Hemisphere and strengthen in the Northern Hemisphere, causing water to pile up in the northern oceans.
This redistribution of mass also would affect Earth’s rotation, which in turn would cause water to build up along the North American continent and in the Indian Ocean.
Sea Level Rise could take up 5 to 10 centuries, so no worries for the Netherlands any time soon.