The United States Geological Survey (USGS) reports that ice shelves are retreating in the southern section of the Antarctic Peninsula due to climate change. The disappearing ice could lead to sea-level rise if warming continues, threatening coastal communities and low-lying islands worldwide.
Every ice front in the southern part of the Antarctic Peninsula has been retreating overall from 1947 to 2009, according to the USGS, with the most dramatic changes occurring since 1990. Previously documented evidence indicates that the majority of ice fronts on the entire Peninsula have also retreated during the late 20th century and into the early 21st century.
The ice shelves are attached to the continent and already floating, holding in place the Antarctic ice sheet that covers about 98 percent of the Antarctic continent. As the ice shelves break off, it is easier for outlet glaciers and ice streams from the ice sheet to flow into the sea. The transition of that ice from land to the ocean is what raises sea level.
The Peninsula is one of Antarctica's most rapidly changing areas because it is farthest away from the South Pole, and its ice shelf loss may be a forecast of changes in other parts of Antarctica and the world if warming continues.
Retreat along the southern part of the Peninsula is of particular interest because that area has the Peninsula's coolest temperatures, demonstrating that global warming is affecting the entire length of the Peninsula.
The Antarctic Peninsula's southern section as described in this study contains five major ice shelves: Wilkins, George VI, Bach, Stange and the southern portion of Larsen Ice Shelf. The ice lost since 1998 from the Wilkins Ice Shelf alone totals more than 4,000 square kilometers, an area larger than the state of Rhode Island.
"This research is part of a larger ongoing USGS project that is for the first time studying the entire Antarctic coastline in detail, and this is important because the Antarctic ice sheet contains 91 percent of Earth's glacier ice," said USGS scientist Jane Ferrigno. "The loss of ice shelves is evidence of the effects of global warming. We need to be alert and continually understand and observe how our climate system is changing."
Citation: Ferrigno et al., 'Coastal-Change and Glaciological Map of the Palmer Land Area, Antarctica: 1947—2009', USGS, February 2010
- PHYSICAL SCIENCES
- EARTH SCIENCES
- LIFE SCIENCES
- SOCIAL SCIENCES
Subscribe to the newsletter
Stay in touch with the scientific world!
Know Science And Want To Write?
- Hubble Spots Europa Geysers Again - How They Did It - And What Next? Flyby? Lander?
- A Book By Guido Tonelli
- Global Warming Has Made Global Warming Harder To Show
- How Did Early Earth Stay Warm? Greenhouse Gases
- Is Corbyn Right About The Bomb?- Op Ed
- Petition To Youtube To Halt Ads On Doomsday Videos - They Make The Vulnerable Suicidal
- California Methane Caps Could Hurt Organic Farming Most
- "So your honestly saying that nothing is going to happen at all by this.Casey ..."
- "The left bases a persons dedication to science strictly on how many of their beliefs you wholeheartedly..."
- "I know someone who has sent to a zeta talkers (a website, which promoted, back in the early 2000s..."
- "Oh that's an example of how they muddle everything together and ignore inconvenient differences..."
- "I think uve also got to take into account as well tho mr walker that there is also alot of people..."
- A Cocktail of Wild Viruses Treats Bacterial Wound Infections in Mice
- The Scientific Advisors at Theranos Won't (or Can't) Talk
- Suppressing Coughs at Tonight's Presidential Debate
- Suppressing Cough at Tonight's Presidential Debate
- How Smoking Causes Heartaches
- Flu Vaccine Updates for 2016-2017