Friday, December 07, 2007

The Gaia Thang!

What would happen to the world's coastlines if the West Antarctic Ice Sheet melted, raising global sea levels by as much as 20 feet?

The Gaia Thang!

The main ice covered landmass is Antarctica at the South Pole, with about 90 percent of the world's ice (and 70 percent of its fresh water). Antarctica is covered with ice an average of 2,133 metres (7,000 feet) thick, and in many places thickness exceeds 4,000 metres (13,123 feet), reaching a maximum of 4,800 metres(15,748 feet).

The British Antarctic Survey estimates the volume of the ice sheet to be 30 million cubic kilometres. If all this were to melt, sea levels would rise by 57 m (187 feet) and the interior of the continent would also rise.

This rebound would be caused by the huge weight redistribution of ice sheets as they change to water and enter the sea. The weight of the Antarctic ice is so great that in many areas it actually pushes the land below sea-level and if the ice cover was removed Antarctica would slowly rise up another 450 metres (1500 feet) above sea-level.

The average temperature is -37°C, so the ice should take an extended period of time to melt. In fact in most parts of the continent it never gets above freezing.

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