Polar Ice Sheets Melting Faster
Process to blame for a fifth of sea-level rise
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted Nov 30, 2012 4:55 AM CST
Updated Nov 30, 2012 7:56 AM CST
This May 30, 2012 image shows an iceberg in or just outside the Ilulissat fjord, that likely calved from Jakobshavn Isbrae, the fastest glacier in west Greenland.   (AP Photo/Ian Joughin)

(Newser) – The most expansive study yet is helping to clarify long-held uncertainties about polar ice. The melting of polar ice sheets has sped up since 1992, raising sea levels 0.43 inches—a fifth of their total rise since then. And while the melting ice sheets accounted for 10% of the sea level rise in the 1990s, the process now accounts for closer to 30%. Greenland has lost more permanent ice to melting than has Antarctica, the Wall Street Journal notes, thanks to warmer air and ocean currents.

"If you extrapolate these results, Greenland is going to be a serious contributor to global sea-level rise," says an expert. "Its contribution, relative to other sources, is becoming greater and greater." Ice loss there is now occurring nearly five times faster than it was in the mid-1990s. Scientists' difficult task is to measure "mass balance," the difference between a year's snowfall on the permanent ice sheets and the amount of ice that breaks or melts off. The latest study offers twice the accuracy of previous work. The role of man-made climate change in the melting remains unclear, but nature can't account for all of it, says a study author. He adds that while there's no "immediate threat" from rising sea levels, the study calls for further investigation.

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Showing 3 of 71 comments
Jamesd.
Nov 30, 2012 8:13 PM CST
Really funny when the most incredibly ignorant and politically biased people post comments on a science related topic. Poor scientists just don't have a chance!
JesseJ
Nov 30, 2012 7:22 PM CST
If all the ice melts, I won't have to drive my Hummer so far North to get that new white rug to put in front of the fireplace.
I_hate_to_say
Nov 30, 2012 5:46 PM CST
Kudos to newser for continuing to feature the latest scientific findings on the coming climate catastrophe. In addition to helping to turn around public opinion in the wake of the propaganda wars of the science denying Koch Brothers and their cohorts in the fossil fuels industries, such articles provide a venue to showcase for approbation the pathetic drivel which continues to be spewed by paid trolls and cretins like roadhog.