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
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.
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