WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- Melting glaciers in the United States and around the world is a climate change indicator.
- Massive chunks of ice continue to melt causing sea levels to rise.
- But a new study indicates that the ever increasing mass of water is also causing the ocean floor to sink.
The United States Geological Survey has been monitoring melting glaciers since the 1950s at all three U.S. benchmark glaciers. The three North American glaciers—Gulkana and Wolverine glaciers of Alaska and Washington’s South Cascade Glacier—all have shown losing mass.
The melting ice seeps into the ocean floor, beaches and shorelines. The increasing water weight causes the ocean floor to sink underneath.
The Geophysical Research Letters published a new study that focuses on the redistribution of melted glaciers worldwide. The results indicate that aside from the ocean floor is pushed down, the movement can also make it even more challenging to observe and forecast the changes in sea level as climate change continues.
Scientists are already aware that because the ocean’s water gets heavier, the ocean floor would be subjected to too much pressure. However, no research had been made focusing on how much deformation was actually happening. The most recent data collected from ocean sensors and satellite measurements reveal an average sinking of the ocean floor by about 0.1 millimeter per year since 1993. The ocean floor sank by 2.1 millimeters from 1993 to 2014.
This change is happening on a global scale so 2.1 millimeters in a little over two decades is already a potentially destructive change. These findings also mean that scientists have miscalculated how much sea levels are rising by as much as 8 percent.
Melting glaciers mean decreasing land to live on and those who live in coastal areas know this too well. According to The National Geographic, the sea level will rise between 11 and 38 inches by 2100. Much of the U.S. east coast will be under water.
The National Geographic also reported that the increasing volume of water in the ocean means that ocean storms and surges are likely to be more powerful and more devastating.