MadSci Network: Earth Sciences

Re: Is there enough ice at the Earths Poles to cover all land if it was to melt

Date: Thu Apr 22 08:45:28 1999
Posted By: Eli Hestermann, Grad Student Biological Oceanography
Area of science: Earth Sciences
ID: 924671248.Es

I didn't know the answer to this one, but fortunately NASA has a good 

description with information about their Earth Observing System.  This 
includes a PDF on 

Sea ice with lots of information about polar ice.  According to them:

"Together, Greenland and Antarctica contain about 75% of the world's fresh 
water, enough to raise sea level by over 75 meters [250 feet], if all the 
ice were returned to the oceans."

Of course that's not enough to cover all the land on Earth, although it 
would cover about 1/3 of the total land area.  There are a bunch of other 
complications in setting an exact number, but this gives you a good idea of 
the size of the effect melting all this ice and snow would have.

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