Tags: Antarctica | scientists | ice | melt

Scientists: Antarctica's Ice Melt Growing Larger

By    |   Monday, 16 March 2015 03:24 PM

Another giant area of Antarctica may be losing vast amounts of ice, which will likely make the sea level rise even higher, particularly in the Northern Hemisphere, new findings are revealing.

Last year, it was learned that the great ice sheet of West Antarctica may have been irreversibly destabilized, and new discoveries say the same thing is happening with a glacier in East Antarctica, scientists revealed Monday in a new paper published in Nature Geoscience.

And when vast amounts of ice are lost in Antarctica, gravity will eventually force the sea levels to rise to the rest of the planet, reports The Washington Post.

Story continues below video.

The findings were made by a team of scientists from the United States, Britain, France, and Australia that flew research flights over East Antarctica's Totten Glacier, described as the fastest-thinning part of the ice sheet, taking measurements to find out why it is melting. It was learned that warm water from the ocean is getting beneath the glacier, undermining it as well, said study co-author Martin Siegert, of the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London.

The Australian Antarctic Division noted in 2011 that the Totten Glacier, which covers an area of 40 miles by 18 miles, is losing ice at the rate "equivalent to 100 times the volume of Sydney Harbour every year."

Meanwhile, the glacier is holding back an amount of ice, that if it ends up flowing into the ocean, could raise the sea level by more than 11 feet, comparable to the impact from the West Antarctic ice sheet, an estimate that lead study author Jamin Greenbaum called a "conservative lower limit."

Like the West Antarctic glaciers, the Totten Glacier has ice shelves that extend into the ocean and can lose ice quickly if the water becomes too warm. If that happens, the ice sheet behind the shelves will flow more quickly into the sea, causing even more ice erosion.

Greenbaum said a warmer layer of water offshore is deeper than the colder layers above it, and canyons beneath the glacier may be allowing the warmer saltwater to get into the glacier base.

"What we found here is that there are seafloor valleys deeper than the depth of the maximum temperature measured near the glacier," he said. And as one of the canyons is three miles wide, the new study suggests ice is floating, not lying on solid earth.

The impact could be most dire for residents of the United States, as if volumes of ice are lost, Antarctica will lose size and therefore gravitational pull, allowing the ocean to flow back north, and the United States could end up with a sea level rise of 25 percent or even more.

However, the processes won't happen immediately, but instead to play out over hundreds of years. The giant process may will likely be irreversible, said Siegert, as oceans and the world get warmer.

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Another giant area of Antarctica may be losing vast amounts of ice, which will likely make the sea level rise even higher, particularly in the Northern Hemisphere, new findings are revealing.
Antarctica, scientists, ice, melt
505
2015-24-16
Monday, 16 March 2015 03:24 PM
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