Nunavik, Nunavut face big sea rise: report

Ice melt effects may exceed previous estimates


Melting of the Greenland ice sheet this century may drive more water north than previously thought, raising sea levels along eastern Baffin Island and parts of Nunavik and Labrador by as much as 79 centimetres (30 inches), according to new research by the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado.

Nunavut and Nunavik could face 20 cm more sea level rise than other coastal regions if Greenland’s ice melts at moderate to high rates, suggests the study, published May 29 in Geophysical Research Letters.

The study found moderate to high melt rates of Greenland’s ice sheet could speed up changes in ocean circulation and drive about 10 to 30 cm of water towards northeastern North America on top of the expected average global sea level rise.

But areas in northern Canada and Greenland could see even a greater sea level rise by 2100, the researchers say.

Their findings, produced with new computer models, found that sea level rise may be more threatening than previously believed.

Glacial rebound — that is, the upward movement of the land as glacier melt— would not be able to compensate for the sudden sea level rise, Aixue Hue, a lead researcher in the study, told Nunatsiaq News.

The 2007 assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projected that sea levels worldwide could rise by an average of 18 to 59 cm this century.

The North may see a larger sea level rise because, unlike water in a bathtub, water in the oceans does not spread out evenly and the sea level can vary by several feet from one region to another.

The good news is that the forecast change in ocean currents could help reduce rising temperatures in the Arctic by a few degrees.

“Associated with this reduced warming, the Arctic sea ice cover could potentially increase significantly,” says the study.

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