# Melting of Floating Ice Will Raise Sea Level

##### Aug 04, 2005

When ice on land slides into the ocean, it displaces ocean water and causes sea level to rise. People believe that when this floating ice melts, water level doesn’t rise an additional amount because the freshwater ice displaces the same volume of water as it would contribute once it melts. Similarly, people also think that when ocean water freezes to form sea ice and then melts, the water is merely going through a change of state, so it won’t affect sea level. However, in a visit to NSIDC in May, Dr. Peter Noerdlinger, a professor at St. Mary’s University in Nova Scotia, Canada, suggested otherwise.

In a paper titled "The Melting of Floating Ice will Raise the Ocean Level" submitted to Geophysical Journal International, Noerdlinger demonstrates that melt water from sea ice and floating ice shelves could add 2.6% more water to the ocean than the water displaced by the ice, or the equivalent of approximately 4 centimeters (1.57 inches) of sea-level rise.

The common misconception that floating ice won’t increase sea level when it melts occurs because the difference in density between fresh water and salt water is not taken into consideration. Archimedes’ Principle states that an object immersed in a fluid is buoyed up by a force equal to the weight of the fluid it displaces. However, Noerdlinger notes that because freshwater is not as dense as saltwater, freshwater actually has greater volume than an equivalent weight of saltwater. Thus, when freshwater ice melts in the ocean, it contributes a greater volume of melt water than it originally displaced.

Figure 1: A freshwater ice cube floats in a beaker of concentrated saltwater. Note that the ice cube floats much higher in the saltwater than it would in a glass of freshwater because saltwater has a greater density.

Figure 2: When the freshwater ice melts, it raises the water level. Freshwater is not as dense as saltwater; so the floating ice cube displaced less volume than it contributed once it melted.

Noerdlinger's collaborator, Professor Kay R. Brower, of the New Mexico Institute of Technology, Socorro, validated the effect experimentally as seen in Figures 1 and 2.

## Related Stories

#### River ice reveals new twist on Arctic melt

Apr 02, 2014

A new study led by Lance Lesack, a Simon Fraser University geographer and Faculty of Environment professor, has discovered unexpected climate-driven changes in the mighty Mackenzie River's ice breakup. This ...

#### UN scientists see grim future if no climate action

Mar 23, 2014

UN scientists are set to deliver their darkest report yet on the impacts of climate change, pointing to a future stalked by floods, drought, conflict and economic damage if carbon emissions go untamed.

#### Leech has a remarkably high tolerance to freezing and thawing

Mar 03, 2014

Imagine you're a leech, happily making a living on a turtle in some quiet, freshwater pond. What do you do when winter comes and temperatures in your warm little habitat begins to dip below freezing?

#### Global warming felt to deepest reaches of ocean

Mar 02, 2014

In the mid-1970s, the first available satellite images of Antarctica during the polar winter revealed a huge ice-free region within the ice pack of the Weddell Sea. This ice-free region, or polynya, stayed ...

#### Great Lakes become nearly covered with ice

Feb 15, 2014

From the bridge of the Coast Guard cutter Mackinaw, northern Lake Huron looks like a vast, snow-covered field dotted with ice slabs as big as boulders—a battleground for the icebreaker's 58-member crew ...

#### Arctic biodiversity under serious threat from climate change, according to new report

Feb 14, 2014

Unique and irreplaceable Arctic wildlife and landscapes are crucially at risk due to global warming caused by human activities according to the Arctic Biodiversity Assessment (ABA), a new report prepared ...

## Recommended for you

#### First-of-its-kind NASA space-weather project

10 hours ago

A NASA scientist is launching a one-to-two-year pilot project this summer that takes advantage of U.S. high-voltage power transmission lines to measure a phenomenon that has caused widespread power outages ...

#### Some astronauts at risk for cognitive impairment, animal studies suggest

14 hours ago

Johns Hopkins scientists report that rats exposed to high-energy particles, simulating conditions astronauts would face on a long-term deep space mission, show lapses in attention and slower reaction times, even when the ...

#### Spacewalking astronauts complete urgent repair job (Update)

15 hours ago

Spacewalking astronauts easily replaced a dead computer outside the International Space Station on Wednesday and got their orbiting home back up to full strength.

#### Soviet space capsule up for sale in Belgium

16 hours ago

For those who have everything, how about a Soviet-era space capsule dating back to the 1970s, when it carried three cosmonauts into space?

#### How many moons does Venus have?

17 hours ago

There are dozens upon dozens of moons in the Solar System, ranging from airless worlds like Earth's Moon to those with an atmosphere (most notably, Saturn's Titan). Jupiter and Saturn have many moons each, ...

#### Experiment seeks changes in yeast's genetic expression in microgravity conditions

17 hours ago

Growing knowledge in a given field takes time, attention, and…water? It does when you're talking about plant studies aboard the International Space Station (ISS). All of these things and some scientific ...

## More news stories

#### Telescope tech using membrane optics moves to Phase 2

(Phys.org) —The United States military's advanced research arm (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA) never bored with the topic of finding smaller, less expensive launch vehicles, is now ...

#### Spacewalking astronauts complete urgent repair job (Update)

Spacewalking astronauts easily replaced a dead computer outside the International Space Station on Wednesday and got their orbiting home back up to full strength.

#### How many moons does Venus have?

There are dozens upon dozens of moons in the Solar System, ranging from airless worlds like Earth's Moon to those with an atmosphere (most notably, Saturn's Titan). Jupiter and Saturn have many moons each, ...

#### First-of-its-kind NASA space-weather project

A NASA scientist is launching a one-to-two-year pilot project this summer that takes advantage of U.S. high-voltage power transmission lines to measure a phenomenon that has caused widespread power outages ...

#### A star's early chemistry shapes life-friendly atmospheres

Born in a disc of gas and rubble, planets eventually come together as larger and larger pieces of dust and rock stick together. They may be hundreds of light-years away from us, but astronomers can nevertheless ...

#### SensaBubble: It's a bubble, but not as we know it (w/ video)

Multi-sensory technology that creates soap bubbles, which can have images projected onto them or when the bubbles are burst release a scent, will be unveiled at an international conference later this month.

#### The hemihelix: Scientists discover a new shape using rubber bands (w/ video)

While setting out to fabricate new springs to support a cephalopod-inspired imaging project, a group of Harvard researchers stumbled upon a surprising discovery: the hemihelix, a shape rarely seen in nature.

#### Chameleon crystals could enable active camouflage (w/ video)

(Phys.org) —The ability to control crystals with light and chemistry could lead to chameleon-style color-changing camouflage for vehicle bodies and other surfaces.

#### Superconducting qubit array points the way to error-free quantum computers

A fully functional quantum computer is one of the holy grails of physics. Unlike conventional computers, the quantum version uses qubits (quantum bits), which make direct use of the multiple states of quantum ...

#### Hundreds of genetic mutations found in healthy blood of a supercentenarian

Genetic mutations are commonly studied because of links to diseases such as cancer; however, little is known about mutations occurring in healthy individuals. In a study published online in Genome Research, resear ...