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Kansas team starts study on Sea Level Changes

Kansas, USA, 04 April 2007: The University of Kansas researchers are part of a team at the Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets, where they are developing new technology and computer models to measure and predict sea level changes resulting from the melting of polar ice sheets.

“Even half a meter to 1 meter of sea level rise is a serious issue,” said Prasad Gogineni, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science and director of CReSIS. “The question right now is not whether the sea level is rising, it’s a question of how fast and how much.”

Last year, researchers discovered Antarctica’s ice sheet has been losing 36 cubic miles or more than 5 trillion cubic feet of ice each year since early 2002. NASA scientists say the total ice volume in Greenland is also diminishing, which could have dire consequences for the 4 million people who live in the world’s polar regions.

“This is a long-term issue,” said Gogineni, who began studying sea ice more than two decades ago. “The sea level rise issue may not be an immediate issue related to climate change, but on the long term it affects a lot of people.”

But the study relies heavily on theory and conjecture, largely the result of sporadic core samples, satellite imaging and primitive radar measurements. Many locations are too remote to investigate, so what really lies beneath the ice is largely unknown.