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Assessing Sea Level Rise Caused by Ice Sheet Melting More Accurate than Ever

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IcesheetResearch from university of Bristol revealed sea level rises a lot faster than predicted by IPCC in their Forth Assessment Report, due to the melting of Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets.

The unique study used structured expert elicitation, combined with experts’ opinions, to estimate the total sea level rise in case of a complete melt of Antarctica and Greenland glacier ice. The shocking 63m were reported in the latest issue of the journal Nature Climate Change.

The largest uncertainty in potential sea level rise comes from possible melting of ice sheets. In order to predict their future behavior, scientists have looked into various numerical models and alternative approaches.

Professor Jonathan Bamber and Professor Willy Aspinall approached predicting the risk and estimating uncertainties, by soliciting and pooling expert judgments.

The calculated that by 2100, the mean estimate of sea level rise caused by ice sheet melting alone would be 29cm, with 5 percent probability to exceed 84 cm. In comparison, the IPCC presented a range of increase between 18 and 59 cm.

In addition, the research showed great uncertainty among scientists and experts on the reasons to why ice sheets are recently melting faster than initially predicted.  According to Bamber, this is the first study to use mathematical pooling of experts’ opinions. Bamber is certain that this approach has the potential to be used in many similar problems in climate change research, in order to improve the quality of future predictions.

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