In a statement, the University of Durham underlines that the new investigations indicate that previous episodes of ice loss may have caused sea levels to rise “at a rate of about 3.6 meters per century, giving vital clues as to what could happen. happen if climate change continues without decreasing “.
The period of rapid sea level rise, which began 14,600 years ago, became known as Meltwater Pulse 1A (MWP-1A) and there was no agreement in the scientific community as to which layer of ice is responsible for the phenomenon, pointing out an Antarctic ice sheet as likely, but the latest investigations have gathered evidence that ascribes that role to ice sheets in the northern hemisphere.
“Most of the fusion water appears to have originated in the ancient North American and Eurasian ice sheets, with a minimal contribution from Antarctica, reconciling previously disparate points of view,” says the University of Durham in the statement released today.
According to the same note, in addition to flooding vast areas of lowlands, “this unparalleled discharge of fresh water into the ocean, comparable to the melting of an ice sheet twice the size of Greenland in just 500 years, will have disrupted ocean circulation. , with effects of dragging on to the global climate “.
The scientists involved believe that the knowledge gathered about the source of the fusion water, based on detailed geological data at sea level and cutting-edge modeling techniques, “will improve the accuracy of the climate models that are used to replicate the past and predict changes in the future “.
“Our study includes new information from lakes on the coast of Scotland that have been isolated from the ocean due to the elevation of the land after the retreat of the British Ice Sheet, allowing us to confidently identify the sources of fusion water,” he said, quoted in same statement, the study’s lead author, Yuncheng Lin.
The researcher points out that although Meltwater Pulse 1A was identified more than 30 years ago, scientists have previously tried to determine the source of sea level rise based on data from the tropics, but most of these studies disagreed with the geological records of the change of the ice sheet.
The study’s co-author, Pippa Whitehorse, explained that the technique used “really allows investigating the error bars in the data and exploring which ice melting scenarios are most likely”.
“We found that most of the rapid sea level rise was due to melting ice sheets across North America and Scandinavia, with a surprisingly small contribution from Antarctica,” emphasized the researcher from the Department of Geography at the University of Durham. .
According to the scientist, “the next big question is to find out what triggered the melting of the ice, and what impact the massive influx of melting water had on ocean currents in the North Atlantic”, since any disturbance of the Current Gulf, for example due to the melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet, will have significant consequences for the climate of the United Kingdom, says Pippa Whitehorse, cited in the statement of the institution.
The University of Durham warns of the “great risk to society” that sea level rises due to warming climate and stresses the importance of improving “understanding of the reasons and the speed with which change can happen”, to help plan the resulting impacts.
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