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Melting Glaciers Fuel Sea Level Rise

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Glaciers in Alaska and nearby Canada are rapidly building new snow at the top, and rapidly eroding at the bottom. Although a few glaciers are thickening, most Alaskan glaciers are thinning—and at twice the speed of the 1950s. These glaciers contributed about nine percent of sea level rise in the last 50 years. One study estimates that Alaska’s glaciers lost twice the volume as the Greenland Ice Sheet from 1995 to 2001.

Why Melting Glaciers Matter to the Coasts

A Double Threat

Warming temperatures are twice the trouble for sea level rise. In addition to melting land-based ice, climate change is also raising global sea level by thermal expansion. Warm water takes up more space that cold water. Thermal expansion is responsible for more than half of global sea level rise.