Last Decade's Ice Melt Would Flood the United States

Kansas City District/CC BY 2.0

For years, scientists have been sounding the alarm about melting glacial ice and increasing sea levels -- though for folks living in the most greenhouse gas emitting nations, the rising tide has yet to slash against their threshold in any meaningful way. A new study on global ice loss, however, puts the scale of melt off in terms that are bound to make more than a few folks feel a bit wet under the collar.

Applying data gathered from Earth-monitoring satellites, researchers from the University of Colorado found that glacial melt-off may actually be more dramatic than previously understood. Previously, ice melt in Antarctica and Greenland was the primary focus, but a broader look reveals an even greater rise in ocean levels.

According to researchers, ice melt from 2003 to 2010 raised sea levels 1.48 millimeters. While it may sound rather insignificant to some, that's actually enough water to flood the entire United States in a foot-and-a-half of melted ice. In reality, however, that water is enough to raise sea levels more than half-an-inch per year.

Study co-author and University of Colorado professor John Wahr, to the Christian Science Monitor:

"The Earth is losing an incredible amount of ice to the oceans annually, and these new results will help us answer important questions in terms of both sea rise and how the planet's cold regions are responding to global change."

Tags: Global Climate Change

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