From Iceland — Ask A Scientist: What Effect Will Rising Sea Levels Have On Iceland?

Ask A Scientist: What Effect Will Rising Sea Levels Have On Iceland?

Global warming is on everyone’s minds; summers are getting hotter, glaciers are melting and greenhouse gases are filling the skies with smog. Living on a rock in the North Atlantic makes you feel relatively untouchable by the chaos across the world but one day, the seas will rise and Iceland will be hit hard. We asked Halldór Björnsson of the Icelandic Meteorological Office on how he thinks rising sea levels will affect the country.

“Iceland is rising rapidly in some locations which affects the relative sea level change. In some locations, especially along the south east coast of Iceland the rate of rise is so fast that it is doubtful that these locations will experience any sea level rise.

“How much sea level will increase there depends on several things, such as the warming of the ocean, the melt of glaciers and ice-sheets (in Greenland and Antarctica) and changes to the gravitational field due to the ice melt.

“The last item is quite surprising to many, but the current size (and mass) of say the Greenland Icesheet affects gravity around it in such a way that it keeps sea level higher than otherwise. Once the Ice Sheet melts this effect diminishes with the effect that sea level may drop close to the ice sheet, but rise more elsewhere.”

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