Mean atmospheric O2
Geologic Time Scale
South America with sea level +100m
This is how South America may appear with mean sea level about 100 meters (330 feet) above today's. Such a dramatic rise in sea level could occur if all of the Earth's glaciers were to melt.
In this image much of Brazil, Venezuela and nearly all of the of the Amazon Basin has been flooded with sea water destroying a minimum of 2 million square miles of dense tropical rainforest. Further south the majority of Uruguay, Paraguay, and much of Argentina are, like the Amazon Basin, under an inland sea.
A likely cause of a catastrophic melting of the Earth ice stores would be a change in climate, a sudden rise in the global temperature accelerated by a runaway greenhouse effect. While the amount of water held by the Earth's glaciers can be calculated with some accuracy, the exact mechanism that would set those glaciers to melting, and how long it would take for them to melt, is poorly understood. Some models suggest that several millennia of higher temperatures would be required to melt all the world's glaciers, while others predict much faster processes on the scale of centuries, or even decades.
Copyright © Walter B. Myers. All rights reserved.
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