Geophysical forces will slow down the pace of rising sea levels, according to a new study.
A number of studies done in the last year are predicting that sea levels will rise as much as 10 feet due in part to the rapid melting of the massive West Antarctic Ice Sheet, but a new study says the computer models overlooked an important part of the equation, and the rising sea levels may not be quite so dramatic.
According to an article on phys.org, study lead author Natalya Gomez, an assistant professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at McGill University in Montreal that, with regard to Antarctica, computer models need to take into account the gravitational effects of the large ice sheet and the variations in the Earth structure when analyzing the rate of the loss of ice.
The findings of the new study, published online in Nature Communications, say the gravitational pull of the massive ice sheet on the water around it, and the fluid nature of the mantle below the bedrock on which the ice is sitting, was not accounted for in computer simulations that made rising sea level predictions.
They believe these forces will result in less drastic increases in sea levels, or at the least, a more gradual increase.
Any large mass has a certain amount of gravitational pull, and this is true for the sea ice around Antarctica. As the amount of ice is reduced by melting, the pull will also be reduced, and the sea level near the ice would go down sharply, according to their findings. In turn, this will reduce the pace of the retreating ice.
Also, the land mass beneath the ice will have a great deal of weight removed with the ice melting, and the ground below will rebound. The fluid nature of the mantle below the ice sheet will cause the earth below to rise even faster that most parts of the world.
But the researchers cautioned that the levels of CO2 emissions will also play a great part in the ice retreat. Gomez adds the greater the emissions of CO2 in the air, the harder it will be for the geophysical forces will have to work to prevent being overwhelmed by the strength of warming.