Researchers from NASA have developed a tool to forecast which cities are vulnerable to flooding due to the melting of ice in a warming climate.
It looks at the Earth’s spin and gravitational effects to predict how water will be ‘redistributed’ globally, says NASA.
“This provides, for each city, a picture of which glaciers, ice sheets, (and) ice caps are of specific importance,” the researchers were quoted as saying. The study, detailed in the journal Science Advances, could provide scientists a way to determine which ice sheets they should be “most worried about”.
The scientists explained that as land ice is lost to the oceans, both the Earth’s gravitational and rotational potentials are perturbed, resulting in strong spatial patterns in sea-level rise (SLR). The pattern of sea-level change has been termed sea-level fingerprints.
“We lack robust forecasting models for future ice changes, which diminishes our ability to use these fingerprints to accurately predict local sea-level (LSL) changes,” the researchers said. So they set out to determine the exact gradient of sea-level fingerprints with respect to local variations in the ice thickness of all of the world’s ice drainage systems.
“By exhaustively mapping these fingerprint gradients, we form a new diagnosis tool, henceforth referred to as gradient fingerprint mapping (GFM), that readily allows for improved assessments of future coastal inundation or emergence,” the study said.
The scientists demonstrated that for Antarctica and Greenland, changes in the predictions of inundation at major port cities depend on the location of the drainage system.
The study was published in the journal Science Advances.
The British Journal Editors and Wire Services