A team of scientists carried out a research which focuses on the Laurentide Ice Sheet. It’s a massive expanse that covered North America during the last Ice Age.
According to the research, small spikes in ocean temperatures can cause periods of rapid melting and splintering of the ice.
Moreover, climate change could drive sea levels even higher than what the models can predict. The glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica have been melting rapidly in recent years due to an upsurge in ocean temperatures.
Roughly, every 8,000 years the edges of ice sheet break off, sending a huge cluster of icebergs flowing into the Atlantic Ocean. These icebergs carry sediment from Canada's Hudson Bay and deposit the dirt on the ocean floor. They also boost sea levels by more than 6 feet over the course of hundreds of years.
The research team focused on the role the oceans played, studied ice core and ocean-floor sediment records to examine how temperatures varied over thousands of years. And hence found that, even small changes in sub-surface ocean temperatures could lead to sea level-boosting.
Ice sheets are highly sensitive to warming in the surrounding water as well as in the air. Warm ocean water that is just tickling the edge of the ice sheets can trigger catastrophic ice retreats that could last for centuries.
As of now, predicting the future of ice sheets means understanding the changes in the ocean and air.
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