Research highlight

Accelerating sea-level rise from Patagonian glaciers

Nature Geoscience

April 4, 2011

The rate of melting in the Patagonian Icefields was markedly higher in the late twentieth century than the preceding few centuries reports a paper published online in Nature Geoscience.

Neil Glasser, Stephan Harrison and colleagues estimated the amount of ice loss in the northern and southern Patagonian Icefields, and hence the amount of meltwater entering the oceans, since the Little Ice Age. Maximum glacier extent occurred in 1870 in the north and 1650 in the south. They found that following this maximum, the northern and southern icefields were responsible for a sea-level rise of just a few thousandths of a millimetre per year, respectively.

This estimate of long-term sea-level rise is one order of magnitude lower than estimates for the past 50 years, suggesting that the rate of melting has increased substantially over the twentieth century.

doi: 10.1038/ngeo1122

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