Ice thaws will bring short-lived cooling
(Image: Jeremy Walker/naturepl.com)

Sea level rise could lead to a cooler, stormier world

15:51 07 January 2013 by Michael Le Page

A catastrophic rise in sea level before the end of the century could have a hitherto-unforeseen side effect. Melting icebergs might cool the seas around Greenland and Antarctica so much that the average surface temperature of the entire planet falls by a few degrees, according to unpublished work by climate scientist James Hansen of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City.

While it might sound welcome, the temperature differences produced by the “iceberg cooling effect” could lead to even more climate chaos in a world already devastated by extreme weather. Winter storms, for instance, are powered by the temperature differences between the poles and the equator, so there might be storms of unprecedented ferocity.

And the temporary cooling would be deceptive. Due to the greenhouse effect, the planet as a whole would still be accumulating heat – it’s just that vast amounts of heat would be going into melting ice and warming water. “It’s a redistribution of heat energy,” says Daniel Sigman of Princeton University, who studies the end of the last ice age and was not involved in Hansen’s work.

Read more: Sea level rise could lead to a cooler, stormier world – environment – 07 January 2013 – New Scientist.

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