Wed May 27, 2009 5:36pm EDT
by Deborah Zabarenko, Environment Correspondent
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – New York, Boston and other cities on North America’s northeast coast could face a rise in sea level this century that would exceed forecasts for the rest of the planet if Greenland’s ice sheet keeps melting as fast as it is now, researchers said on Wednesday.
Sea levels off the northeast coast of North America could rise by 12 to 20 inches more than other coastal areas if the Greenland glacier-melt continues to accelerate at its present pace, the researchers reported.
This is because the current rate of ice-melting in Greenland could send so much fresh water into the salty north Atlantic Ocean that it could change the vast ocean circulation pattern sometimes called the conveyor belt. Scientists call this pattern the meridional overturning circulation.
“If the Greenland melt continues to accelerate, we could see significant impacts this century on the northeast U.S. coast from the resulting sea level rise,” said Aixie Hu, lead author of an article on the subject in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.