The melting of sea ice does not contribute significantly to sea level rise, as is demonstrated by the experiment described by Ms. Long in her May 3 letter to the editor. However, sea levels will rise if ice located on land melts. (Ms. Long can confirm this for herself by a variation of the experiment she described: Melt a few ice cubes in a second glass and pour the resulting water into the first glass. Obviously, the water level in the first glass will rise.) If all the ice in Greenland were to melt, the sea level would rise by many feet.
Even without the melting of glaciers and ice sheets on land, the warming of ocean water results in thermal expansion and a consequent rise in sea level. If the mean temperature of the atmosphere continues to rise, as it has, a rise in sea level is unavoidable.
Paul Vanden Bout
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