Back to Africa Check

Climate change and melting icebergs do contribute to rising sea levels

Talk of rising sea levels caused by polar ice melting in a warmer climate is just scaremongering, according to one Facebook post

To demonstrate, the post shows two jugs of water, one with ice blocks in it and another with all the ice melted. The water level in both jugs is the same.

“To you climate change activists. This is what happens when icebergs melt... nothing just figured you need the visual aid to believe it,” the post reads.

Does climate change – and melting icebergs – have no effect on sea levels? We checked.

Two ways climate change causes sea levels to rise

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change works to help implement climate change treaties. An article on its website explains that climate change causes sea levels to rise in two ways.

One is the increased concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere warming the oceans’ water.

Hot water – less dense than cold water – takes up more space, causing the ocean to expand,” explains an article

The other is ice at the north and south poles melting. This ice includes ice sheets and glaciers – not just icebergs.

‘Icebergs do not form in the ocean’

Africa Check asked Prof Andy Mahoney, an expert in sea ice physics at the University of Alaska, to clarify the science behind melting icebergs and rising sea levels.

Mahoney said he was familiar with the demonstration. “Although technically correct, the claim made in the Facebook post is still a case of misinformation.”

The post did accurately describe the melting ice blocks experiment, but did not adequately describe sea level changes, he said.

“Icebergs do not form in the ocean. They originate when snow falls on land and compresses under its own weight to form ice. Icebergs contribute to sea level rise not when they melt, but when they first meet the ocean.”

Climate change actually increases the formation of icebergs, as warmer temperatures cause more icebergs to calve from melting polar ice caps and fall into the ocean.

“To accurately represent processes associated with climate change, the demonstration should begin with an ice-free glass of water. This will clearly show that the water level in the glass increases when the ice is added,” Mohoney said. – Vincent Ng’ethe


Republish our content for free

We believe that everyone needs the facts.

You can republish the text of this article free of charge, both online and in print. However, we ask that you pay attention to these simple guidelines. In a nutshell:

1. Do not include images, as in most cases we do not own the copyright.

2. Please do not edit the article.

3. Make sure you credit "Africa Check" in the byline and don't forget to mention that the article was originally published on

For publishers: what to do if your post is rated false

A fact-checker has rated your Facebook or Instagram post as “false”, “altered”, “partly false” or “missing context”. This could have serious consequences. What do you do?

Click on our guide for the steps you should follow.

Publishers guide

Africa Check teams up with Facebook

Africa Check is a partner in Meta's third-party fact-checking programme to help stop the spread of false information on social media.

The content we rate as “false” will be downgraded on Facebook and Instagram. This means fewer people will see it.

You can also help identify false information on Facebook. This guide explains how.

Add new comment

Restricted HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a href hreflang> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote cite> <code> <ul type> <ol start type> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <h2 id> <h3 id> <h4 id> <h5 id> <h6 id>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.
limit: 600 characters

Want to keep reading our fact-checks?

We will never charge you for verified, reliable information. Help us keep it that way by supporting our work.

Become a newsletter subscriber

Support independent fact-checking in Africa.