Old Glacier and the Sea

29 Mar

I grew up near Glacier National Park in Northwest Montana. Like its name implies, Glacier is the home to glaciers. Some are thousands of years old. Sadly, the glaciers are melting because the Earth is getting warmer. It is surprising what just a few degrees can make such a huge difference. However, I've always thought that besides reducing the beauty of the park, melting glaciers don't have much impact. But some scientists are challenging that assumption by arguing that melting glaciers are giving an unexpected boost to rising oceans:

Few effects from global warming raise more red flags than rising sea levels. The topic has led to a growing pile of conflicting research trying to answer the questions: How fast, and why?

Now, a pair of US scientists conclude that the oceans rose at a global average rate of 1.5 to 2 millimeters a year (6 to 8 inches a century), confirming a hotly debated, decade-old estimate. But their work also points to the key driver of this change: water from melting glaciers and not, as some have argued, a natural swelling of the oceans caused by higher temperatures.

Good thing Glacier is several thousand feet above sea level and will continue to be so even if all the glaciers melt.

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