Global Sea-Level Rise Could Occur Unevenly Across Globe

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The fact sea levels could rise if the polar ice caps melt has been long established, but according to new research some regions could see greater increases than others.

According to research published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, sophisticated computer modeling of sea-level rise over the coming century suggests parts of the Pacific could see the highest rates of rise while some polar regions will actually experience falls in relative sea levels. This is based on the way sea, land and ice interact globally.

For the study, the researchers looked ahead nearly a century to the year 2100 to predict how ice loss could continue to add to rising sea levels, and it reaffirms what scientists have reportedly known for some time – sea levels around the world will not be uniform.

The team of researchers from Italy’s University of Ubrino and the U.K.’s University of Bristol reported finding ice melt from glaciers – including from the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets – could be of critical importance to regional sea-level changes. These could affect lands far from ice sheets, with Western Australia, Oceania and even Hawaii likely feeling the most dramatic effects.

“This is the first study to examine the regional pattern of sea level changes using sophisticated model predictions of the wastage of glaciers and ice sheets over the next century,” said the paper’s co-author Jonathan Bamber, of Bristol University.

A team of ice2sea researchers, which funding from the European Union’s (EU) FP7 scheme, looked to predict the sea levels, and found in great detail the pattern of sea-level rise that could result from two scenarios. This includes ice-loss from both glaciers and ice sheets.

The study primarily focused on three effects that could lead to global mean sea-level rise being unequally distributed around the world. These include land subsiding and emerging due to a massive loss of ice at the end of the last Ice Age 10,000 years ago. This is when billions of tons of ice covered many parts of North America and Europe and when it melted it resulted in the major redistribution of mass around the world. The crust responded to such changes so slowly the deforming is still continuing.

Another aspect of this is warming of oceans could lead to a change in the distribution of water across the globe. A final piece of this is the mass of water held in ice on landmasses including Antarctica and Greenland, and how the surrounding liquid water could raise the levels, which in turn could melt away the ice sheets and be redistributed around the globe.

“In the paper we are successful in defining the patterns, known as sea level fingerprints, which affect sea levels,” said the paper’s co-author Professor Giorgio Spada. “This is paramount for assessing the risk due to inundation in low-lying, densely populated areas. The most vulnerable areas are those where the effects combine to give the sea-level rise that is significantly higher than the global average.”

Another recent study also suggested the ice melt could impact the east coast of North America as rising sea levels could slow the Gulf Stream reports Climate Central. This study was published in the February Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans. It noted measured acceleration of sea level rise in this area could be tied to a slowdown in the flow of the Gulf Stream.

“There have been several papers showing [sea level rise] acceleration,” said lead author Tal Ezer, of Old Dominion University’s Center for Coastal Physical Oceanography (CCPO). “This new paper confirms the hypothesis for why it’s happening.”

These studies could suddenly change the value of beach front property.

Source: Peter Suciu for – Your Universe Online