In the Chesapeake Bay Quarterly, published by the Maryland Sea Grant program a recent article discusses seal level rise due to the melting of ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica.
Antarctica is, in many ways, the king of the cryosphere. Greenland is melting at a faster rate, but the southern continent holds a lot more ice, says Christopher Shuman, a geoscientist at the Joint Center for Earth Systems Technology, a collaboration between the University of Maryland Baltimore County and the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. In total, there’s enough ice on Antarctica to raise the world’s oceans by more than 200 feet.
“That’s what makes it the 800-pound gorilla compared to the more rapidly changing parts of the cryosphere,” Shuman says.
Shuman is no stranger to the Mid Atlantic.
The geoscientist grew up in the Philadelphia area and spent family vacations in his grandparents’ cabin on the Elk River near Cecilton, Maryland. Today, some of his cousins own the house. Like so many other property owners in Maryland, they’ve seen the handiwork of rising waters. These days, when a big storm hits the Chesapeake, waves often wash over the family’s dock.
“It’s a special place to us,” Shuman says. “It’s also a pretty good vantage point for appreciating the world that’s evolving around us.”
In recent years, scientists have learned more about the role that Antarctica will play in this evolving world. Their research points to big losses in the years to come.