According to recent data Antarctica appears to warm much faster than previously thought. This could have dire consequences for rising sea levels and the hundreds of million of people living in coastal regions worldwide.
As RTCC reports :
Antarctica, the Earth’s largest store of fresh water, might be shedding ice at double the rate than a few years ago but experts believed its southern peninsula to be largely stable.
Researchers revealed today however the region’s ice sheet began abruptly to thin six years ago, and is in no sign of waning.
Satellite images show several glaciers along a 750km coastline have consistently lost about 66 cubic km, or 55 trillion litres of water a year between 2009-2014.
Amounting to 350,000 Empire State Buildings, they say, the onset of ice loss converts the region into the second contributor to sea level rise in Antarctica.
Writing in the journal Science, Bert Wouters at the University of Bristol, which led the report said: “The fact that so many glaciers in such a large region suddenly started to lose ice came as a surprise to us.”
“It shows a very fast response of the ice sheet: in just a few years the dynamic regime completely shifted.”
The Washington Post brings other scary news from the White Continent :
The troubling news continues this week for the Antarctic peninsula region, which juts out from the icy continent.
Last week, scientists documented threats to the Larsen C and the remainder of the Larsen B ice shelf (most of which collapsed in 2002). The remnant of Larsen B, NASA researchers said, may not last past 2020.
And as for Larsen C, the Scotland-sized ice shelf could also be at potentially “imminent risk” due to a rift across its mass that is growing in size (though it appears more stable than the remainder of Larsen B).
Given the huge amounts of ice stored there, it has to be hoped that we shall do something about climate change. Luckily, given the news I am reading these days it seems to be the case. Will it be enough ? Will it be soon enough ? This remains to be seen…
Image credits : US NOAA.