According to a NASA-led study of satellite imagery the edge of Antarctica’s ice sheet has lost about 12 trillion metric tons of ice since 1997.
The study, conducted by Nasa and published in the journal Nature, has revealed decades of Antarctic ice loss which, until now, has not been noticed.
The researchers say.
“It’s unlikely Antarctica can grow back to its pre-2000 extent by the end of this century.”
This alarming study is made worse by the realisation that this figure is twice what previous estimates have suggested.
The study also suggests that the loss of ice is likely to accelerate in tandem with the Earth’s global warming caused by human-induced climate change.
Chad Greene, lead author of the study and scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in a press release.
“Antarctica is crumbling at its edges and when ice shelves dwindle and weaken, the continent’s massive glaciers tend to speed up and increase the rate of global sea level rise.”
In other words, the reason we need to worry about Antarctica’s glacial shelf extends far beyond the preservation of one of our planet’s purest regions.
We tend to think of Antarctica’s giant, frozen and intact ice sheets as storage facilities for fresh water.
However, if the shelves at the edge of these sheets starts to melt, then the water they hold trickles into the ocean and, over time, sea levels all across the world begin to rise.
For some extraordinary reason when ice breaks off the continent and melts into the ocean it’s known as “calving.”
Under normal circumstances, calving happens naturally and at a pretty steady rate. That means that over the long term ice shelves have a constant size and generally sea levels have a consistent level, too.
However NASA had this to say about calving,
“In recent decades the warming ocean has been destabilising Antarctica’s ice shelves by melting them from below, making them thinner and weaker.”
Losses from calving have outpaced natural ice-shelf growth so greatly that the researchers think it’s unlikely Antarctica can grow back to its pre-2000 extent by the end of this century. Reality is quite the opposite, actually.”
NASA said that their study suggests that the snowy continent’s largest shelves are headed toward major calving events over the next 10 to 20 years.
Rising Sea Levels
It’s not a coincidence that in recent decades climate change has forced the ocean temperatures to rise exponentially.
Earlier this year, an ice shelf as big as Los Angeles has disintegrated before our eyes.
To make matters worse, an accompanying Nasa-led study published in Earth System Science Data indicates ice thinning in Antarctica has also spread from the continent’s outer edges to its interior, a process that has nearly doubled in western parts of the ice sheet over the past decade.
NASA’s also data reveals that, even though the picture is complex, overall sea levels are rising faster than they were 50 years ago – and that the speed will very likely increase in the future primarily because of melting ice sheets.
Johan Nilsson, a lead author of the second study and a scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said this of the research,
“Subtle changes like these, in combination with improved understanding of long-term trends from this data set, will help researchers understand the processes that influence ice loss, leading to improved future estimates of sea level rise.
Condensing the data into something widely useful may bring us closer to the big breakthroughs we need to better understand our planet and to help prepares us for the future impacts of climate change.”
The current sea level rise is 1.8 millimeters (.07 inch) per year.
However, National Geographic magazine have suggested that ocean levels are projected to rise another 1 to 4 feet over this century. The predicted rise depends on the amount of global temperature rise and polar ice sheet melt.
The magazine says the consequences of this will include an increase in the intensity of storm surges, flooding and damage to coastal areas.
In reality what this means is that large population centers situated in vulnerable places, including wildlife, will have to relocate from their homes.
This has already been seen by the citizens of Bangladesh, who the past several years have had an increased amount of cyclones powered by climate change. These storms have already claimed the lives of many coastal inhabitants.
Perhaps the most talked-about Antarctic ice story is the potential fate of Thwaites Glacier, aka the “Doomsday Glacier.” This is a massive body of ice which is larger than the state of Florida. It is located on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.
In December 2021, scientists announced that cracks found in the Thwaites Eastern Ice Shelf indicated that this ice shelf – which is holding back large parts of the Thwaites Glacier – could fail in as soon as five years.
Without the ice shelf to stabilize it, the glacier could speed up its flow into the ocean. If the entire glacier were to melt then sea levels around the world could rise by approximately 25 inches (63.5 centimeters).
What would the World look like if ALL the ice melted?
Well for starters London would disappear under water, along with the Netherlands, most of Denmark and Florida…
If all the ice melted, it would raise sea-levels by 216 feet thus creating new shorelines for all the continents on Earth..
… and that would be a massive problem.
Take a journey to the Kingdom of Ice. Below are links to some interested reads.
- The Alien Invasion of Antarctica Is Only Just Beginning
- Journey to Antarctica Aboard One of the World’s Most Advanced Icebreakers
- Hunting Antarctica’s Holy Grail, Deep Beneath the Ice
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We leave you now with a video made by Michael W showing a bird’s eye view of the beauty of our world.
Peace and Tranquility.
Author: Michael W