If all of the polar ice caps melted

  • #1
1,104
25
the sea level shouldn't rise? Water takes up more volume as a solid than a liquid right. So why all the fear that we will all be run over by the sea from melting polar ice cap? The sea levels shouldn't change at all right? What am I missing here?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Ivan Seeking
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
7,260
301
The South pole is a continent, not just floating ice, and there is a tremendous amount of ice in the north on land, such as in Greenland.

I forget the greatest depth of the ice in Antactica, but I think it is something like a mile thick in places.
 
  • #3
1,104
25
The South pole is a continent, not just floating ice, and there is a tremendous amount of ice in the north on land, such as in Greenland.

I forget the greatest depth of the ice in Antactica, but I think it is something like a mile thick in places.

But again it is just a big chunk of floating ice right? If the entire thing melted, sea levels shouldn't rise 1 bit.


I can understand if all of the snow and ice on land actually melted, then the sea levels would rise, but if all of the chunks of ice in the ocean were to melt, sea levels shouldn't rise at all.
 
  • #4
1,482
3
Antarctica has about 5 million square miles of 1 mile (average) in depth of solid ice above sea level.
 
  • #5
Ivan Seeking
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
7,260
301
It also appears that during melting, the water can carve the ice into layers and lubricate its path, so that the ice will move in large sheets rather than slowly melting, which could significantly increase the rate of loss.
 
Last edited:
  • #6
Ivan Seeking
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
7,260
301
But again it is just a big chunk of floating ice right? If the entire thing melted, sea levels shouldn't rise 1 bit.
No, it is sitting on land, not floating. Antarctica is a ice-covered land mass.
 
  • #7
1,104
25
Antarctica has about 5 million square miles of 1 mile (average) in depth of solid ice above sea level.
So what? It is still just like an ice cube in a glass of water right? I could fill a bucket a quarter up with some water and then fill it to the brim with ice, once all of the ice melted, none of the water would spill out of the bucket.
 
  • #8
1,104
25
No, it is sitting on land, not floating. Antarctica is a ice-covered land mass.
Ok, but how much of the land is actually above sea level? Do we even know? I could see how sea levels could rise if all of the ice melts that is on land above sea level.
 
  • #9
NoTime
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
1,568
0
No. It's like a funnel full of ice sitting over the glass.
The ice is not sitting in the water.
 
  • #10
Ivan Seeking
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
7,260
301
http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Newsroom/NewImages/Images/ICESat_AntElevation.jpg [Broken]
http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Newsroom/NewImages/images.php3?img_id=16758 [Broken]
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #11
1,482
3
So what? It is still just like an ice cube in a glass of water right? I could fill a bucket a quarter up with some water and then fill it to the brim with ice, once all of the ice melted, none of the water would spill out of the bucket.
Antarctica is a continent. All that ice is sitting on a mass of land above sea level. Antarctica even has a mountain range with some peaks over 16,000 ft above sea level.
 
  • #12
1,104
25
No. It's like a funnel full of ice sitting over the glass.
The ice is not sitting in the water.
OK so if Antartica melts, sea levels rise, but since the North Pole isn't a continent there is no land underneath. Therefore if the entire ice mass of the North Pole melted, sea level wouldn't change.
 
  • #13
2,985
15
http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Newsroom/NewImages/Images/ICESat_AntElevation.jpg [Broken]
http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Newsroom/NewImages/images.php3?img_id=16758 [Broken]
Oooo, ahhhhh pretty.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #14
loseyourname
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
1,749
5
Water World won't happen, but the sea level will rise.
 
  • #15
Evo
Mentor
23,172
2,914
Don't forget that as ice melts, the land beneath it rises. It's a *very* slow process, but one that is happening right now from the retreat of the last ice age.
 
  • #16
378
2
the sea level shouldn't rise? Water takes up more volume as a solid than a liquid right. So why all the fear that we will all be run over by the sea from melting polar ice cap? The sea levels shouldn't change at all right? What am I missing here?
So that we don't run out of issues :smile:

But, I think the sea level would increase (and is increasing right now; heard about this somewhere - but don't have any source).
 
  • #17
Evo
Mentor
23,172
2,914
But, I think the sea level would increase (and is increasing right now; heard about this somewhere - but don't have any source).
The sea level is rising in some places and dropping in others. I've previously posted the link.
 
  • #18
Ivan Seeking
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
7,260
301
Here you go

Sea level is rising along most of the U.S. coast, and around the world. In the last century, sea level rose 5 to 6 inches more than the global average along the Mid-Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, because coastal lands there are subsiding.

Higher temperatures are expected to further raise sea level by expanding ocean water, melting mountain glaciers and small ice caps, and causing portions of Greenland and the Antarctic ice sheets to melt. The IPCC estimates that the global average sea level will rise between 0.6 and 2 feet (0.18 to 0.59 meters) in the next century (IPCC, 2007).

...Rising sea levels inundate wetlands and other low-lying lands, erode beaches, intensify flooding, and increase the salinity of rivers, bays, and groundwater tables. Some of these effects may be further compounded by other effects of a changing climate. Additionally, measures that people take to protect private property from rising sea level may have adverse effects on the environment and on public uses of beaches and waterways. Some property owners and state and local governments are already starting to take measures to prepare for the consequences of rising sea level. [continued]
http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/effects/coastal/index.html

Sea levels are rising worldwide and along much of the U.S. coast. (IPCC, 2007) Tide gauge measurements and satellite altimetry suggest that sea level has risen worldwide approximately 4.8-8.8 inches (12-22 cm) during the last century (IPCC, 2007). A significant amount of sea level rise has likely resulted from the observed warming of the atmosphere and the oceans.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the primary factors driving current sea level rise include:

the expansion of ocean water caused by warmer ocean temperatures
melting of mountain glaciers and small ice caps
(to a lesser extent) melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet and the Antarctic Ice Sheet
Other factors may also be responsible for part of the historic rise in sea level, including the pumping of ground water for human use, impoundment in reservoirs, wetland drainage, deforestation, and the melting of polar ice sheets in response to the warming that has occurred since the last ice age.

Considering all of these factors, scientists still cannot account for the last century's sea level rise in its entirety. It is possible that some contributors to sea level rise have not been documented or well-quantified.

The rate of sea level rise increased during the 1993-2003 period compared with the longer-term average (1961-2003), although it is unclear whether the faster rate reflects a short-term variation or an increase in the long-term trend. (IPCC, 2007)

While the global average sea level rise of the 20th century was 4.4-8.8 inches, the sea level has not risen uniformly from region to region.[continued]
http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/science/recentslc.html

http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/images/slr_trends_7-apr-2006.gif
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #20
Ivan Seeking
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
7,260
301
It looks to me that the data is still within the existing envelope of about +- 10mm.

There is no way to draw any conclusions based on one simple graph.
 
  • #21
turbo
Gold Member
3,077
46
During the last ice age, glacial subsidence occurred rather quickly in geological terms, while rebound of the land that the glaciers had depressed progressed more slowly. The result is that Skowhegan, ME (~175' above current sea level) was under water, as evidenced by the blue marine clays and silt that can be found almost everywhere. The oceans probably intruded much farther inland, but I have done a lot of soils-work in that area and it is pretty amazing to think about ocean-front property so far from the (current) ocean.
 
  • #22
246
6
On both polls, there is a lot of ice sitting on land. The Arctic may be an ocean, but there is still plenty of ice in the area (Siberia, Alaska, Canada, et cetera) that it will greatly increase sea levels.

I seem to remember an estimate of somewhere between ten a thirty five meters if all the landlocked ice melted.

And that is not even taking into account the fact that water expands as it heats up. The warmer the oceans, the greater their volume. The mass of water in the oceans is so great that seawater expansion could have a clearly noticeable effect.
 
  • #23
matthyaouw
Gold Member
1,153
5
OK so if Antartica melts, sea levels rise, but since the North Pole isn't a continent there is no land underneath. Therefore if the entire ice mass of the North Pole melted, sea level wouldn't change.
The Greenland ice sheet is on a landmass too
 
  • #24
Ivan Seeking
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
7,260
301
Also, there is the water in formally "permanent" glaciers, such as in the Himalayas, that eventually makes it to the oceans. As indicated in the links from earlier, it isn't just the poles.
 
  • #25
194
0
well even if we talk about the north pole... we can picture it as a giant iceburge and true about 90% of that ice is in the water so when it melts the water level will stay the same... but what about the 10% above the water... that will make the the oceans rise wont it? i mean 10% of the whole north pole is a whole damn lot of water!!!
 

Related Threads on If all of the polar ice caps melted

  • Last Post
Replies
2
Views
650
Replies
12
Views
825
  • Last Post
Replies
1
Views
4K
  • Last Post
2
Replies
38
Views
3K
  • Last Post
Replies
18
Views
3K
Replies
2
Views
2K
  • Last Post
2
Replies
39
Views
3K
Replies
9
Views
2K
Replies
16
Views
4K
Top