Newton and sea level rise

Thanks to Eduardo at Die Klimazweibel I now have a much better understanding of regional sea level rise. This is not new work, but certainly is rarely discussed by big media. The consequences of Greenland or Antarctic glacier melting are not what you might think.

By how much would sea-level rise if the Greenland ice sheet disappears ? Probably quite a lot, but not in Germany, or in North Western Europe for that matter. There, sea level would virtually unaffected. To formulate it a bit provocatively, Greenland is for Western Europeans irrelevant. They should be rather observing Antarctica more closely.

Global sea-level rise is caused about by several factors, among which the most important the expansion of the water column due to rising ocean water temperatures and the melting of the polar ice-sheets. Both effects are obvious and do not require further explanation. However, the shrinking of the polar land-ice masses does not lead to a sea-level rise uniformly distributed over the globe. Quite the contrary, its fingerprint is substantially heterogeneous. If the Greenland ice sheet melts, most of the sea-level rise would occur in the southern Hemisphere. If, on the other hand, it is the West-Antarctic Ice sheet that collapses, Nature’s wisdom would produce a targeted maximum of sea-level rise right in front of the White House. This surprising effect is caused by very well-known physics – gravitational attraction – but it is seldom found in the public discussion of global sea-level rise.

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