Of the ice and snow in this world that lies across both sea and land alike, it is a collective store of 68.7 percent of the fresh water available. Although this percentage only amounts to 1.74 percent of the total water quantities, if melted and added to the already existing 96.5 percent in the oceans and seas then 98.24 percent of the world’s water would be unusable by humans. Also, with the worry of its impact on rising sea levels, it becomes an even greater concern out of its large potential for harm.
While the direct deposit of this quantity won’t occur all at once, it is feared that even a small percentage of this volume will cause global impact within a few years. Although this warming of the planet is natural, it is something that is accelerated by human influence. What’s more, it is a self-accelerating event even without human affects.
Fortunately rising water levels will be small and not at a constant zero level of the ocean’s surface. One of the common misconceptions of the additional water is that it will cause the ocean’s levels to only go up, not caring to factor in the weight of the water and its effects on the softer sections of the ocean’s floor. It is only logical that as water flows into the ocean the volume will increase and so will the weight as well. As this weight increases the ocean floor will be depressed until an equilibrium is reached or it they sands cannot be compressed further. Only after that point will the waters actually rise to any substantial levels, but will rise all the same.
The source of the water, having been previously stated, is the liquid water that is produced from the melting ice sheets, glaciers, and permanent snow and ice layers in all parts of the world. Whether these solid deposits are at the poles or scattered about the Earth the runoff will eventually make its way to the lowest point or be evaporated along the way. As the planet gets warmer, fewer quantities of this atmospheric moisture will have the opportunity to return as frozen precipitate. This in turn will result in less glacier formation in the mountains and less snow at the poles.
To make matters worse, the very process of melting accelerates the process as it creates less heat reflection and more absorption. This means that where snow and ice are present, light and heat will be reflected, thus keeping the environment cooler. As land ice melts, and there is less coverage of glaciers and snow, more rock will be available to absorb and store heat, just as the water in the sea will when it is uncovered. With the steady process of heat absorption surrounding the snow and ice, coupled with the warmer atmosphere it is impossible for the frozen liquid to remain so.
With such uncertain melting trends, even projected future models are largely inaccurate. However, the reality can still be seen at a constant rate as glaciers recede, ice shelves break, and sea ice itself dissipates. Out of the three only the sea ice returns with the winter season, but at increasingly lesser quantities. As for the melted water itself, it is dispersed to the great expanse of sea and ocean where it is only sure to help it to rise all the more.
Water Percentage Source: http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/earthwherewater.html