Antarctic Glaciers Melting at Rate Unprecedented in 5,500 Years

 

Photo by Andrew Tang on Unsplash

The article behind this LINK is tragic in every sense of the word.

“These currently elevated rates of ice melting may signal that those vital arteries from the heart of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet have been ruptured,” said one researcher. “Is it too late to stop the bleeding?”

An excerpt:

The human-caused climate crisis is pushing crucial glaciers in Antarctica to lose ice at a rate not seen in more than 5,000 years, according to a new study published Thursday.

Researchers at the University of Maine, the British Antarctic Survey, and Imperial College London found that the Pine Island and Thwaites glaciers on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet could cause global sea-level rise of up to 3.4 meters, or over 11 feet, in the next several centuries due to their accelerated rate of ice loss.

The glaciers—one of which, the Thwaites, has been called the “doomsday glacier” by climate scientists because of its potential to raise sea levels—are positioned in a way that allows increasingly warm ocean water to flow beneath them and erode the ice sheet from the base, causing “runaway ice loss,” the University of Maine team said in a statement.

The researchers examined penguin bones and seashells on ancient Antarctic beaches in order to analyze changes in local sea levels since the mid-Holocene period, 5,500 years ago.

Sea levels were higher and glaciers were smaller during the mid-Holocene, as the climate of the planet was warmer than it is today.

Since then, according to the study published in Nature Geoscience, relative sea levels have fallen steadily and the Thwaites and Pine Island glaciers have stayed relatively stable—until recent decades.

Ice loss was likely accelerated just prior to the mid-Holocene, and since then, the rate of relative decrease in sea levels over the past 5,500 years was almost five times smaller than it is in present-day, due to “recent rapid ice mass loss,” according to the scientists…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.lacatholicworker.org/wp/2022/06/12/antarctic-glaciers-melting-at-rate-unprecedented-in-5500-years/

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