Eco-briefs | Study measures sea rise caused by glaciers, ice sheets

Alaska\'s Columbia Glacier
Photo courtesy of Tad Pfeffer/CU

As the world’s glaciers melt, the runoff contributes as much to sea rise as melting ice sheets, according to a study led by Clark University in Worcester, Mass., and the University of Colorado Boulder.

From 2003 to 2009, melt from the glaciers outside of the Greenland and Antarctic sheets caused an increase in sea level of 0.03 inches, according to the study.

“For the first time, we’ve been able to very precisely constrain how much these glaciers as a whole are contributing to sea rise,” Alex Gardner, assistant professor in geography at Clark University and lead author of the study, said in a press release from CU. “These smaller ice bodies are currently losing about as much mass as the ice sheets.”

Researchers estimate that if all the glaciers in the world melted, the sea level would rise by about two feet. In contrast, the melting of the Greenland ice sheet would raise sea levels by about 20 feet and the melting of Antarctica’s ice cover would raise levels about 200 feet.

“Because the global glacier ice mass is relatively small in comparison with the huge ice sheets covering Greenland and Antarctica, people tend to not worry about it,” said CU-Boulder Professor Tad Pfeffer, a study co-author, in a press release. “But it’s like a little bucket with a huge hole in the bottom: it may not last for very long, just a century or two, but while there’s ice in those glaciers, it’s a major contributor to sea level rise.”

— Ainslee Mac Naughton


Globally, 783 million people do not have access to safe drinking water, and every day, almost 6,000 people die from water-related illnesses, according to Water For People. The nonprofit organization dedicated to providing people in developing countries with safe drinking water and adequate sanitation facilities is hosting a free music festival to raise awareness and money for its campaigns.

Coors Light and other local organizations such as Downtown Denver Partnership and Denver Water have partnered with Water for People for the event.

The Festival For Water will include performances by The Motet, Bonerama and Broken Tongues. Denver food trucks will provide food at the festival and donate all proceeds to the cause. The Festival For Water will take place from 4 to 9 p.m. on June 9 in Civic Center Park in Denver.

— Ainslee Mac Naughton


More than 97 percent of scientific papers stating an opinion on climate change acknowledged humans as the cause of global warming, according to a study led by the University of Queensland in Queensland, Australia. However, only 45 percent of Americans thought scientists agreed that humans caused global warming, according to a 2012 poll from the US Pew Research Center.

“There is a gaping chasm between the actual scientific consensus and the public perception,” said John Cook, University of Queensland Global Change Institute lead author, according to a press release from the university.

— Ainslee Mac Naughton