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News Release 09-019

Could Sea Level Rise to the Steps of the U.S. Capitol?

Even partial melting of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet would have serious consequences, unevenly felt around the world

satellite image of Antarctica

The continent of Antarctica appears as a bright white mass in a composite satellite image.


February 5, 2009

View a video interview with University of Toronto professor of geophysics Jerry X. Mitrovica and graduate student Natalya Gomez; and Oregon State University glacial geologist Peter U. Clark.

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

Global warming raises the specter of melting glaciers and ice sheets at both ends of the globe. The West Antarctic Ice Sheet, roughly the size of Texas, extends over both land and water west of Antarctica's Transantarctic mountains.  Even partial melting of this vast ice sheet would cause a significant rise in sea level.

But that sea level rise would not happen uniformly around the globe, according to an article in Science magazine. The authors show that when physical and gravitational factors are applied to projections of sea level rise, the impact on coastal areas is dramatically worse in some parts of the world than predicted so far.

MORE: Oregon State University Media Release

-NSF-

Media Contacts
Maria C. Zacharias, NSF, (703) 292-8454, email: mzachari@nsf.gov
David Stauth, Oregon State University, 541-737-0787, email: david.stauth@oregonstate.edu

Principal Investigators
Peter U. Clark, Oregon State University, 541-737-1247, email: clarkp@onid.orst.edu
Jerry X. Mitrovica, University of Toronto, 416 978-4946, email: jxm@physics.utoronto.ca

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2020 budget of $8.3 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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