Glasgow Digital Library Voyage of the Scotia BRUCE PEOPLE SHIP ANTARCTIC INDEX
Scotland and the Antarctic

Section 1: Background - Arctic and Antarctic ... The Nature of Antarctica

What would happen if the ice melted?

image from Voyage of the Scotia

The world's climate is becoming warmer and the effect of this on Antarctic ice is a constant research item for scientists in the south. If the West Antarctic ice sheet melted, world sea levels would rise by about five metres (16-17 feet). This might not seem much but would have a devastating effect on low-lying countries such as Bangladesh. Many low-lying areas of Britain - especially around the Wash - would be below sea level and parts of London would be flooded. Hopefully this will not happen, but with global warming there is a risk. Two things happen if the planet heats up:

The East Antarctic ice cap contains most of the ice in Antarctica. There is an enormous amount of water locked up on the continent as ice. If it all melted (very unlikely) it could cause a rise of sea level of 60 metres (200 feet). This would flood huge areas of agricultural land around the world. Scotland would no longer need a Forth and Clyde Canal as the land in the central belt would be flooded, making the northern part of Scotland an island.

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Glasgow Digital Library Voyage of the Scotia BRUCE PEOPLE SHIP ANTARCTIC INDEX