Polar Warning: Even Antarctica’s Coldest Region Is Starting to Melt

Polar Warning: Even Antarctica’s Coldest Region Is Starting to Melt

SOURCE: Yale e360 DATE: March 28, 2019 SNIP: No place on Earth is colder than East Antarctica. Home to the South Pole and making up two-thirds of the southernmost continent, the vast ice sheets of East Antarctica — formed over tens of millions of years — are nearly three miles thick in places. The temperature commonly hovers around -67 degrees Fahrenheit (-55 degrees Celsius); in 2010, some spots on East Antarctica’s polar plateau plunged to a record-breaking -144 degrees F. Now, however, parts of the East Antarctic are melting. Research into what’s happening in East Antarctica is still in its early stages. It’s hard to decipher what exactly is taking place on a gigantic continent of ice with just a few decades of satellite data and limited actual measurements of things like snowfall and ocean temperatures. But according to one controversial paper released earlier this year, East Antarctica is now, in fact, shrinking, and is already responsible for 20 percent of the continent’s ice loss. Scientists are seeing worrying signs of ice loss in the East Antarctic. Glaciers are starting to move more quickly, dumping their ice into the Southern Ocean; in satellite images, depictions of the fast-moving ice light up in red, like a panic sign. A melting East Antarctic is deeply worrying. The Antarctic as a whole contains about 90 percent of the planet’s ice — enough in theory to raise global sea levels an average of roughly 200 feet should it all...
Sea level fears as more of giant Antarctic glacier floating than thought

Sea level fears as more of giant Antarctic glacier floating than thought

SOURCE: Agence France Presse DATE: March 20, 2018 SNIP: More of a giant France-sized glacier in Antarctica is floating on the ocean than previously thought, scientists said Tuesday, raising fears it could melt faster as the climate warms and have a dramatic impact on rising sea-levels. The Totten Glacier is one of the fastest-flowing and largest glaciers in Antarctica with scientists keen to keep a close eye on how it melts given the enormous amount of water it could potentially unleash. Using artificially created seismic waves that help scientists see through the ice, researchers have discovered that more of the Totten Glacier floats on the ocean than initially thought. The findings are important because recent studies have shown the Totten Glacier’s underbelly is already being eroded by warm, salty sea water flowing hundreds of kilometres inland after passing through underwater “gateways”. As it does, the portion of the glacier resting on water rather than rock increases, accelerating the pace of...
Intensifying Winds Could Increase East Antarctica’s Contribution to Sea Level Rise

Intensifying Winds Could Increase East Antarctica’s Contribution to Sea Level Rise

SOURCE: University of Texas News DATE: November 1, 2017 SNIP: Totten Glacier, the largest glacier in East Antarctica, is being melted from below by warm water that reaches the ice when winds over the ocean are strong—a cause for concern because the glacier holds more than 11 feet of sea level rise and acts as a plug that helps lock in the ice of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet. Research led by The University of Texas at Austin has found that wind is responsible for bringing warm water to Totten’s underbelly, causing the glacier to melt from below. This finding helps answer the question of what causes Totten to speed up some years and slow down in others. Climate change is expected to increase the intensity of winds over the Southern Ocean throughout the next century, and the new findings show that Totten Glacier will probably respond to the changing winds. During the next century, winds are expected to intensify and migrate closer to the East Antarctic coast as a result of increased atmospheric greenhouse gas. This study suggests that as winds over the Southern Ocean intensify, so will Totten Glacier’s contribution to global sea level...