BONN (GERMANY) - Until now research on the effects of climate change has underestimated the contribution of the expansion of sea waters due to the melting of glaciers. A team of researchers at Bonn University has discovered, using satellite date, that this effect, in the last twelve years, would be twice as big as what hypothesised. This is the cause of the constant increase in rough sea phenomena. Scientists coordinated by Dr. Jürgen Kusche presented the first results on the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
Ice melting in Greenland has been underestimated
Until now, it has been hypothesised that sea levels increased on average by 0.7 to 1.0 millimetres a year. According to new calculations, however, the expansion of the oceans is of around 1.4 millimetres a year, i.e. nearly double what previously hypothesised. "This difference in height corresponds to around double the volume of the melting ice sheets in Greenland", explained Dr Rietbroek, of the Geodesia and geoinformation institute at Bonn University. According to the calculations of the research team, the Philippines hold the record, with around 15 millimetres per year, whilst levels are stable overall on the west coast of the United States, because there is nearly no warming of the oceans in that region.
The risk of rough seas could increase
The main areas threatened by rising sea levels are obviously coastal settlements, where regional changes can have an even bigger effect compared to the global increase. "No country will increase its banks because of a couple of millimetres", said Dr Rietbroek, "but these small quantities can become several centimetres during the decades, due to the physical expansion processes of the water mass of the oceans.
Study of glacial melting in Italy
Last year, on our Alps, a scientific project was launched by the University of Milan. Detection of glacial melting started on the Dosdé glacier of Mount Cima Piazzi using the best aerial detection equipment and the technological eye of a NASA satellite to acquire ultra-high definition images, together with a very advanced weather station to acquire energetic data. The "Levissima Glacier Expedition" project is the first of its kind to use such advanced technology.
by Alessandro Michielli