Greenland's glaciers are so big they attract sea water by gravity
Posted by David Brooks | Wednesday, January 23, 2013
When Greenland's glaciers melt, sea levels will rise hugely, right? Yes, of course it will in many places, but not necessarily near Greenland itself (and maybe not along the NH coast) - due to gravity, of all things.
I learned this astronishing fact from this piece on the NY Times' excellent Green Blog. The reporter (Justin Gillis) riffs on his Times story about rising sea levels, and adds some that didn't make it into the story:
The ice sheets on Greenland and Antarctica are immense, and it turns out they exert enough gravitational pull to draw a substantial amount of ocean water toward them. So if you imagine the whole Greenland ice sheet melting, for instance, something quite bizarre will happen nearby: sea level will fall across an area stretching more than a thousand miles from the ice sheet.
“If Greenland should catastrophically melt tomorrow, sea level will fall in Scotland, it will fall in Newfoundland — and it will fall in Greenland, by a lot,” said Jerry X. Mitrovica, a Harvard scientist who helped to pioneer the study of such effects.
I believe that New Hampshire is close enough to Greeland to be affected by this, although I'm not sure. (Probably, nobody is)
He also talks about the effects of rising and sinking land masses, and even of wind piling up seawater - all of which make it hard to predict the details of rising sea levels as the globe heats up.
At least it's lovely and cold today (just about zero F at my house). Enjoy it while we can