School of GeoSciences Research

Ice is melting and the sea level is rising

The ocean and cryosphere (the frozen parts of our planet) are critical for life on Earth. However, ice is melting at an unprecedented rate, sea levels are rising, and oceans are warming - with more to come.

A large section of melting ice falling off a glacier into the sea

Our world-leading research reveals that human-caused climate change is melting the world's ice sheets and glaciers, contributing to global sea-level rise.

We are also assessing the impacts on deep-sea and open-ocean ecosystems and the unprecedented pressures they're facing due to climate change. 

  • Human-caused climate change is causing widespread loss of glaciers and sea ice at ‘unprecedented’ rates.
  • The Arctic will be 'practically sea ice-free' at least once before 2050.
  • Melting glaciers and ice sheets due to warming are causing sea level rise.
  • The global sea level has already risen by 20cm, with more to come.
  • The frequency of marine heatwaves has nearly doubled since the 1980s.
  • Human-caused climate change is causing ocean acidification to increase and oxygen levels to decrease.
  • Even if we make drastic reductions, many impacts are irreversible for centuries to millennia. This means ice will keep melting and oceans rising, potentially inundating our coastal communities.

So, what is happening?

You can find out key information by clicking on each heading below:

We have a tremendous amount of geological evidence on how the ice sheet has grown and reduced in size during the past two million years, and for the past 50 years, we’ve been able to observe these changes from satellites. But what we’ve lacked until the past decade is the necessary level of precision to fully understand how our ice sheets and glaciers are changing or make useful predictions about how these changes will affect sea levels.

Professor Robert BinghamSchool of GeoSciences

Want to know more?

We've provided some useful links for you.  To see the information, simply click on each heading below: