Polar ice caps melt

Question:

What will happen to the level of the oceans if the polar ice caps melt? Will the level of the oceans rise, fall, or remain the same?

.

.

C

A

P

T

A

I

N

I

N

T

E

R

V

I

E

W

.

.

Solution: The first thought is that if the polar ice caps melt, all the additional water will cause the oceans to rise. In this case, the first thought, so often a false start, is actually correct. If the world’s ice melted, the water would flow into the ocean and raise the level significantly. In New York City, this would mean that the Atlantic Ocean would rise to the level of the sixteenth story of the Empire State Building.

So what’s the difference between the polar ice caps melting and ice melting in a glass? In the latter case, the ice is floating. In the former, much of the polar ice caps, especially in Antarctica, is actually on land and thus not displacing ocean water.

Answer: The oceans would rise.

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