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The consequences of global sea level rise could be even scarier than the worst-case scenarios predicted by the dominant climate models, which don't fully account for the fast breakup of ice sheets and glaciers, NASA scientists said today (Aug. 26) at a press briefing.

What's more, sea level rise is already occurring. The open question, NASA scientists say, is just how quickly the seas will rise in the future.

The current warming of the seas and the associated expansion of their waters account for about one-third of sea level rise around the world. [Images of Melt: Earth's Vanishing Ice]

"When heat goes under the ocean, it expands just like mercury in a thermometer," Steve Nerem, lead scientist for NASA's Sea Level Change Team at the University of Colorado in Boulder, said in the press briefing.

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