San Francisco (AP) — If the greenhouse effect warms the Earth, sea levels will rise only about one-third as much as previously believed, reducing the severity of predicted coastal flooding in the next century, a panel of scientists concluded Thursday.

A major reason is that the south polar ice sheet will get bigger, instead of melting as commonly believed, because a warmer atmosphere carries more moisture and will dump more snow on Antarctica, the researchers said.

“We have destruction along our coasts now even with modestly rising sea level. There are going to be more and more problems, but they won’t be as bad as we thought a few years ago,” said glaciologist Mark Meier, director of the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Source: Associated Press