Researchers from Utrecht University, NIOZ and KNMI think there is a possibility of regional sea level rises of 1.8 metres or more due to the decreasing mass of the Antarctic ice cap. Their results were published on 4 December in the open access journal Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences.
Uneven sea level rises
Sea levels are rising, but not at the same rate all over the world. Regional changes depend, among other things, on ocean currents, the expansion of water under higher temperatures and the distance to major ice caps. The sum of all these factors results in local hotspots: areas where the sea level rises more than elsewhere. Even more important, however, is that the extreme – but not inconceivable – projections are much higher than originally thought. The estimated upper limit could be as much as a metre above the average estimate, so a sea level rise of 1.80 metres during the present century cannot be ruled out.
Dr. ir. Renske de Winter of Utrecht University joined forces with other colleagues from her university and researchers from NIOZ (Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research) and KNMI to study the influence on sea levels if the total potential contribution of the ice caps is taken into account. "All previous studies assumed the average contribution of both the Greenlandic and Antarctic ice caps,’ explains De Winter. ‘We looked at the total bandwidth of potential effects caused by the ice caps of Greenland and Antarctica melting, including contributions to sea level rising in the present century that, although very unlikely, are not inconceivable."