Study the End of Small Glaciers and the Rise of World Sea Levels

The University of British Columbia (UBC) under the direction of Valentina Radic doing postdoctoral research with the Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences, recently did a study of how the melting of the world’s small glaciers and ice caps will impact world sea levels.

According to the study, published in Nature Geoscience, “Melt off from small mountain glaciers and ice caps will contribute about 12 centimeters to world sea level increases by 2100,” with most smaller glaciers completely disappearing.

It was already known that the larger glaciers in Arctic Canada, Alaska, and the Antarctic will significantly raise sea levels by 2100.

This study was based on 120,229 smaller mountain glacers and 2,638 ice caps in Europe, New Zealand, the Caucasus, Western Canada, and Western United States.

Currently world sea levels are already experiencing a 40 percent rise due to the smaller glaciers around the world. However, sea level rise due to the melting of smaller glaciers will actually peak in the 2040’s according to the study.

Ice melt loss according to the study varies from 20 to 70 percent with the typical loss being about 20 percent. The largest ice melt losses will be in Europe and New Zealand with losses around 70 percent. Using an extreme emissions scenario, researchers used the Canadian Earth System Model to make projections.

Researchers including Radic’s colleague, Regine Hock from the University of Alaska in Fairbanks, modeled their projections and conclusions of “future climate melt” on a previous study done by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on “temperature and precipitation projections from 10 global climate models,” but however only modeling the smaller glaciers and ice caps.

Both the IPCC and the UBC study have reached similar conclusions according to Ted Scambos, a glaciologist with the US National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado, which gives more credence to initial projections regarding the sea level rise from melting glaciers.

Scientists have speculated that the smaller glaciers will disappear by 2100, which will not only impact the world’s oceans causing them to warm up but will affect animal and sea life causing the extinction of some species. The rising of sea levels will also impact the coastal areas and island land masses around the world.

Projections included how the melting of glaciers and sea level rise will affect the planet up to the year 3000 stating that both the Northern hemisphere and the tropics will cool down slightly while the coasts of Antarctica will get warmer.

According to these projections the ocean may remain warm for centuries, heating up the middle ocean, which will serve to “destabilize glaciers that terminate in the ocean.”

Based on these conclusions and projections, which stop CO2 emissions at 2100, and 3000, the Earth and ocean waters of the Earth will still be warming in impacted areas, but these projections are only based on climatic and temperature changes; and predictions and cannot be seen as a conclusive answer because climate and temperature can be unstable; and some glaciers will actually come back to normality with high amounts of precipitation.