Sunday, May 22, 2016

Antarctic Glacier Melt Could Raise Sea Level by 3M

A huge glacier in the frozen wastes of East Antarctica, a region previously thought stable, could melt much faster than expected, scientists say.

Totten glacier: expected to melt far faster than previously thought. (Image Credit: Esmee van Wijk/Australian Antarctic Division) Click to Enlarge.
One of Antarctica’s great glaciers could become unstable if global warming continues at the present pace.  As warm seas wash the ice shelf, the land-based mass of ice could begin to retreat, cross a critical threshold in the present century, and then withdraw 300 kilometres inland.

In the course of doing so it would spill tremendous quantities of water into the oceans: enough to raise global sea levels by 2.9 meters (9.5 feet) and threaten cities that are home to billions. 

And here is the bad news:  glaciologists have known for decades that West Antarctica’s ice sheets are unstable.  But the Totten glacier is part of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet, a mass of ice most researchers had believed to be stable and highly unlikely to lose much of its ice, even in a warming world.

Scientists from Australia, New Zealand, the US and Britain report in Nature that they explored the underlying geology of the Totten glacier to build up a picture of its advance and retreat over many millions of years.

Read more at Antarctic Glacier Melt Could Raise Sea Level by 3M

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