Antarctic Ice Sheet Key to Sudden Sea Level Rise
University of Toronto, April 2002, Volume 2, Issue 3
Physicists from Canada, the United States and Britain have concluded that a massive and unusually abrupt rise in sea level about 14,000 years ago was caused by the partial collapse of ice sheets in Antarctica, solving a mystery scientists have been heatedly debating for more than a decade. Near the end of the last Ice Age, the Earth's sea level rose over 20 metres - four times faster than usual for that time period and at least 20 times faster than sea levels are rising now, report geophysicists Jerry Mitrovica of the University of Toronto, Peter Clark of Oregon State University, Glenn Milne of the University of Durham in the U.K. and Mark Tamisiea, a post-doctoral fellow at U of T, in the March 29 issue of Science. The cause of this event - called the global meltwater pulse 1A, first identified in 1989 - has been unknown until now. The scientists say their research not only pinpoints the source of the meltwater pulse, it also makes the case that significant climatic events can occur very rapidly and unpredictably.