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Using geological records, scientists were able to determine that melting ice caused the sea level to rise almost sixty feet at the end of the last ice age. These new findings were published in the journal Nature Communications on April 1, 2021.
The effects of climate change across the globe are quite perilous. Rising sea level due to melting ice sheets is alarming as areas experience massive flooding of low-lying areas and beaches being washing away.
Lead author Yucheng Lin, in the Department of Geography at Durham University, notes: “Despite being identified over 30 years ago, it has been surprisingly challenging to determine which ice sheet was the major contributor to this dramatic rise in sea levels.”
According to the study, most meltwater appears to have originated from the former North American and Eurasian melting ice sheets, with minimal contribution from Antarctica, reconciling formerly disparate views.
This unparalleled discharge of freshwater into the ocean flooded vast areas of low-lying land and disrupted ocean circulation. Knowing the source of the meltwater will improve the accuracy of climate models used to replicate the past and predict changes in the future.
The findings are important for our understanding of ice-ocean-climate interactions, which play a significant role in shaping weather patterns. The results are particularly timely, with the Greenland ice sheet rapidly melting, contributing to a rise in sea levels and changes to global ocean circulation.
The rising sea levels due to an increasingly warming climate pose a significant threat to society. Continuing research is important to understand why and how fast change could happen and plan for the impacts.
Written by Ebonee Stevenson
Edited by Cathy Milne-Ware
Phys.org: Melting ice sheets caused sea levels to rise up to 18 meters; by Durham University
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