Antarctic sea level rising faster than global sea level

Climatologists at the University of Southampton have discovered that over the past 19 years, sea level around the coast of Antarctica has risen 2 cm more than the global average rise of 6 cm. They have detected this rapid sea level rise by studying detailed satellite images of an area spanning over a million square kilometers and have attributed it to the melting of fresh water from the Antarctic glaciers and ice shelves, which is further supported by a decrease in the salinity of the surrounding ocean waters. In order to explain these observations, the scientists estimate that a total discharge of approximately 430 Gt of fresh water to the surrounding ocean is required. Furthermore, global ocean circulation model simulations of the effects of melting ice on the Antarctic Ocean closely match their findings.

Journal reference: Rye, C. D., Garabato, A. C. N., Holland, P. R., Meredith, M. P., Nurser, A. G., Hughes, C. W., … & Webb, D. J. (2014). Rapid sea-level rise along the Antarctic margins in response to increased glacial discharge. Nature Geoscience7(10), 732-735.

Image: Melting icebergs along the Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica. Source: Christopher Michel, Wikimedia Commons.

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