Researchers quantify sea level rise due to ice melt

Scientists have finally published the most definitive estimate of how much sea levels have risen as a result of increased polar ice melting in the last 20 years. According to a new report published in the journal Science, see levels have risen 11mm in the past two decades.

The paper is the end result of a massive collaboration between more than 20 research teams that looked closely at the recent acceleration of ice melt in Antarctica and Greenland. Organisations taking part in the effort include the ESA and NASA, both of which compiled complex satellite data documenting gravitational effects, surface altitudes and the flow of polar glaciers.

The number is the most definitive estimate of sea level rises to date. Numerous estimates released over the years have produced widely varying, and largely uncertain, results.

Since 1992, polar ice melt has been the source of about 20 percent of the total rise in sea levels, according to the report. However, the paper does not provide any sort of forecast on how much further the sea will rise as a result of the phenomenon.

Research leader Professor Andrew Shepherd from Leeds University told BBC reporters, “Prior to now, there’d been 30 to 40 different estimates of how the ice sheets are changing, and what we realised was that most people just wanted one number to tell them what the real change was. So we’ve brought everybody together to produce a single estimate, and it turns out that estimate is two to three times more reliable than the last one.”