A great line from De La Soul, but on a serious note, sea level is rising and scientists don’t seem confident that the trend is going to slow or reverse anytime soon. Over the past month there has been a constant stream of news articles reporting on record low-levels of sea-ice at the end of the melt season and ships short-cutting through the Arctic to reach the Pacific.
It would seem that the writing is on the wall for Arctic sea-ice. The change in albedo alone will only accelerate the decline in ice extent. The exposed ocean will absorb more heat from direct solar radiation than the sea ice which reflects a lot of the radiation and as the ocean warms, the sea ice decline will accelerate.
The accelerated melting of the Arctic sea-ice is significant, but at least we know that this will not result in significant increase in global sea levels (beyond the general expansion of water as it is heated). Those worried about global sea levels are really focused on the large ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica which, if melted completely, would contribute 7m and 61m respectively. 68m of sea level rise. That is huge. But what would it look like? Well there is a very neat interactive map that allows you to visualise future sea levels. Go on, scare yourself. Look how recognisable coast lines change as sea levels increase. You can wipe The Netherlands and Denmark off the map. Click the image below for an overview.
Link to Sea-level Map
Link to ESA article on Polar Ice Loss