The past melting of the ice caps linked to a rise in the sea 10 times faster than today

AFP, published on Thursday 01 April 2021 at 13:36

Melting ice caps in the past may have caused sea levels to rise 10 times faster than they are now, according to a British study released on Thursday, rich in “essential clues” on the effects of current warming.

Sea level could rise by one meter, or even double according to estimates, by the end of the 21st century.

The researchers, led by scientists at Durham University, relied on geological records of past sea levels to estimate that levels rose 3.6 meters per century over a period of 500 years at the end from the last ice age, about 14,600 years ago.

The team also found that this 18-meter sea-level rise could come mainly from melting ice caps in the northern hemisphere and not from Antarctica as previously thought.

Scientists say their work could give “vital clues” about the impact climate change may have, which is causing sea levels to rise.

“We found that most of the rapid sea level rise was due to melting ice caps in North America and Scandinavia, with a surprisingly small contribution from Antarctica,” explained the co- Study author Pippa Whitehouse, Department of Geography at Durham University.

“The next big question is what triggered the ice melt and what impact the massive influx of water has had on ocean currents in the North Atlantic,” she added. “This is of great concern to us today – any disruption of the Gulf Stream, for example due to the melting of the Greenland ice sheet, will have significant consequences for the UK climate,” said Ms Whitehouse.

The five-century sea level rise, comparable to the melting of an ice cap twice the size of Greenland, resulted in the inundation of large areas of land and disruption of ocean circulation , with ripple effects on the global climate, the scientists explained.

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