Sea-level rise to impact Hawaii most, study says

Published On: Feb 23 2013 05:44:00 PM HST

Melting ice is causing a rise in sea level and the place where that will be felt the hardest is Hawaii, according to a new study out this month from a university in Italy.

The research says that ice melt would lead to an uneven rise in sea level around the world.

Like any mass, ice generates a gravitational field and pulls in surrounding water.  As this ice melts, that pull weakens and the water flows away, causing the sea level to actually drop at the poles.

The study says that is one of two reasons sea level would rise unevenly.

The other cause, according to Charles Fletcher of the University of Hawaii School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, "As the ice melts from Antarctica and Greenland, the land rebounds upward. And so the sea floor deepens around Antarctica and Greenland meaning that again, sea level falls around where the ice is melting."

Flecther is not involved in the research, but is familiar with it. He said other studies show a global one-foot rise in sea level by mid-century.

With the new findings, that means, "We may see a few inches more than what the average global sea-level rise will be," Fletcher said.

Scientists say a sea-level rise of just one inch would cause the shoreline to move inland by about 8 feet.  A rise of one foot would cause the shoreline to move inland about 100 feet.

In Waikiki, Fletcher said, "Waves will run up over the beach and into some of the terraces, and into some of the below ground parking levels, parking structures that are located along the shoreline."

We'll also see water coming up storm drains and manholes and that our water table underground would rise, Fletcher added.

"Raise all that one foot and we might start seeing the groundwater table cropping out above the land surface, creating wetlands."

Sea-level may rise two to six feet by the end of the century, according to Fletcher.

"We have time, if we get started soon, to adapt to sea-level rise and the negative impacts of sea-level rise."

Fletcher emphasized that there are still a lot of other variables and unknowns and that scientists don't fully understand sea-level rise just yet.


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