A new study shows, for the first time, evidence of a link between human-caused global warming and melting of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.
West Antarctic Ice Sheet Archives - State of the Planet
Scientists have known for some time that ice shelves off West Antarctica are melting as deep, warm ocean waters eat at their undersides, but a new study shows that temperatures, and resultant melting, can vary far more than previously thought, within a time scale of a few years.
Thousands of years ago, the West Antarctic ice sheet shrank dramatically—then grew back in an unexpected way.
An international collaboration will study the wasting of the Thwaites glacier, which already accounts for around 4 percent of current global sea-level rise, and could collapse within decades or centuries.
If just the West Antarctic Ice Sheet were to melt, it would raise global sea level by 6 meters. That’s more than a theoretical problem. West Antarctica is losing ice mass, and scientists are worried.
Antarctica’s Retreating Ice
While the ice sheets on West Antarctica and the Antarctic Peninsula are usually the ones to make the news in relation to climate change, recent studies have documented transformations that are taking place on the East Antarctic Ice Sheet as well. On the continent as a whole, large areas of ice have already melted and this trend shows no sign of slowing, meaning the implications for global sea level rise in this century could be more dramatic than earlier projections anticipated.