icy edges are melting 70 percent faster in some places than they were
a decade ago, according to a new study in
the journal Science.
massive ice shelves serve as a buffer between the continent’s
ice-sheet system and the ocean. As they disintegrate, more and more
ice will slip into the sea, raising sea levels by potentially huge
study is just the latest bit of horrible news from the bottom of the
world. Last year, we
found out that
the West Antarctic ice sheet was in terminal collapse, which could
raise sea levels by 10 to 15 feet over a few hundred years. Then,
earlier this month, we
an enormous glacier on the other side of the continent is in the same
state, and could contribute about the same amount to sea-level rise.
latest research, from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography,
reinforces those findings, adding to the evidence that the
continent’s future looks quite grim. Using satellite data,
researchers found that “ice-shelf volume change accelerated from
negligible loss” between 1994 and 2003 to “rapid loss” between
2003 and 2012. Within a century, a number of ice sheets, which are
vanishing by dozens of feet per year, could
the geology of east and west Antarctica is different —
the ice in the east stretches out over water like a shelf, while the
ice in the west is stuck to land below the sea — the entire
continent is eroding due to warmer ocean waters and drier weather.
The changing water temperature and decreased precipitation speak to
broader, long-term changes in climate across the continent, though
the west Antarctic is more immediately threatened.
Antarctica to melt completely, it would raise sea levels by more than
200 feet. That, of course, would take hundreds of thousands of years.
And researchers reiterate that they need more and better data before
they understand exactly what’s going on with the continent, and how
quickly we can expect it to shrink global coastlines.
the bad news doesn’t seem likely to stop anytime soon: On Monday
and Tuesday, it was a
balmy 63 degrees Fahrenheit
at the bottom of the world, a record high.