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Melting Icebergs And Sea Level

It is generally assumed that when icebergs melt they contribute to one of the known effects of global warming, that is of course a rise in sea or ocean levels.

But is that actually the case? When you think about it a little bit more closely, consider a glass that has water and ice in it. When the ice metls, the overall water level does not change, and the reason for that is readily explained by the fact that, of course, the ice melts into the rest of the liquid.

So does that mean that there won't be an increase in sea level when iceberg melts by analogy?

Well actually it does not mean that - there WILL be a slight increase in sea level when an iceberg melts. So where is the difference?

It is down to the fact that an iceberg actually contains a lot of fresh water, whilst the sea is of course salty, and therefore the sea is more dense than the iceberg. Thus the melted water from the iceberg takes up a slightly larger volume than the seawater that it displaces.

The net result of this is therefore that the sea level does go up slightly. So, for anyone who is still awake reading this, there you go - there is a link between icebergs melting and sea level rising, so the intuitive belief you had that the two are correlated is indeed true!

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