The researchers, from the University of Southampton, have come to the conclusion that the rapidly rising water levels in Antarctica stem from the massive influx of freshwater into the surrounding oceans. Craig Rye, the study’s lead author, was quoted with saying, “Freshwater is less dense than salt water and so in regions where an excess of freshwater has accumulated we expect a localized rise in sea level.” The authors of this study had also stated, “On the basis of the model simulations, we conclude that this sea-level rise is almost entirely related to steric adjustment, rather than changes in local ocean mass, with a halosteric rise in the upper ocean and thermosteric contributions at depth.” They continued to say, “We conclude that accelerating discharge from the Antarctic Ice Sheet has had a pronounced and widespread impact on the adjacent sub polar seas over the past two decades.”
Essentially, they are saying that the rise is attributed to a chemical reaction, in this case it would be melting ice. Winds pushing warm water under the ice is degrading the ice-sheets in the Antarctic region much faster than what prior researchers had originally thought. This latest study was conducted with collaboration from the British Antarctic Survey and the National Oceanography Center.
With fresh water raising the sea-levels, this can be especially concerning for all coastal mega cities, such as New York or Shanghai, in the distant future. According to another study published in Dec. 2013, by Anders Levermann of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, the ice discharge in Antarctica may raise sea levels anywhere from 1 centimeter to 37 centimeters before the end of the century. So there still might be some time to pack up and move inland.
(Photo courtesy of Andreas Kambanis)