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Press Release 09-019
Could Sea Level Rise to the Steps of the U.S. Capitol?

Even partial melting of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet would have serious consequences, unevenly felt around the world

satellite image of Antarctica

The continent of Antarctica appears as a bright white mass in a composite satellite image.
Credit and Larger Version

February 5, 2009

View a video interview with University of Toronto professor of geophysics Jerry X. Mitrovica and graduate student Natalya Gomez; and Oregon State University glacial geologist Peter U. Clark.

Global warming raises the specter of melting glaciers and ice sheets at both ends of the globe. The West Antarctic Ice Sheet, roughly the size of Texas, extends over both land and water west of Antarctica's Transantarctic mountains.  Even partial melting of this vast ice sheet would cause a significant rise in sea level.

But that sea level rise would not happen uniformly around the globe, according to an article in Science magazine. The authors show that when physical and gravitational factors are applied to projections of sea level rise, the impact on coastal areas is dramatically worse in some parts of the world than predicted so far.

MORE: Oregon State University Media Release

-NSF-

Media Contacts
Maria C. Zacharias, NSF, (703) 292-8454, mzachari@nsf.gov
David Stauth, Oregon State University, 541-737-0787, david.stauth@oregonstate.edu

Principal Investigators
Peter U. Clark, Oregon State University, 541-737-1247, clarkp@onid.orst.edu
Jerry X. Mitrovica, University of Toronto, 416 978-4946, jxm@physics.utoronto.ca

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2014, its budget is $7.2 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives about 50,000 competitive requests for funding, and makes about 11,500 new funding awards. NSF also awards about $593 million in professional and service contracts yearly.

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Oregon State University glacial geologist Peter U. Clark.
View Video
Researchers bring a new perspective to climate change and sea-level rise.
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Image of Science magazine cover for Feb. 6, 2009.
Science magazine cover for Feb. 6, 2009
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