Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Hi-Tech Analysis Pinpoints Antarctic Ice Sheet Dangers

Precision mapping of West Antarctica’s melting glaciers could help climate scientists to predict potentially calamitous effects on sea levels.

A crack in the fast-moving Pine Island glacier in West Antarctica. (Image Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center via Flickr) Click to Enlarge.
Scientists have used high-resolution computing techniques to calculate the future of the West Antarctic ice sheet over the next two or three centuries.

The West Antarctic peninsula right now is about the fastest-warming place on Earth.  And, in the worst case scenario, glaciers will retreat by hundreds of kilometers, and seas will rise everywhere.

An estimated 80,000 cubic kilometers of ice could flow into the sea by 2100, and by 2200 this could rise to 200,000 cubic kilometers.  By the end of this century, sea levels could have risen by 20cms (7.9 in), and 50cms (19.7 in) by 2200.

This is an extreme case, but the forecasts for West Antarctica’s glaciers have been consistently alarming.  In the last two years, scientists have confirmed that the rates of melt and retreat have accelerated, and that, under the combined effects of warmer air and sea, this melting may be irreversible.

Read more at Hi-Tech Analysis Pinpoints Antarctic Ice Sheet Dangers

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