Antarctic Glacier Is Breaking From The Inside And This Is Extremely Dangerous

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Nov 30, 2016
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Now here is news that concerns all of us. A huge glacier near the edge of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is cracking from the inside out at increasing speeds. This is dangerous because glaciers like these are similar to corks on a bottle and prevent ice from flowing into the sea. If the ice flows into the sea, the water will rise several feet above and this can be extremely dangerous. This glacier has been described in a paper published in ‘Geophysical Research Letters’. It is being referred to as the Pine Island Glacier. It was found that in 2015 a 224 square mile iceberg broke off from this glacier. After observing satellite images of before and after this breakage, researchers at the Ohio State University found something very interesting. It was observed that in 2013, two years before the said event, a rift had formed 20 miles inland at the base of the ice shelf. This slowly worked its way up and caused the ice berg to break off.

The Aftermath of ice bergs

So what is the big deal about this particular event? Ice bergs break off very often so what makes this so intriguing? Well this event confirmed what glaciologists had been suspecting for a while now. The ice shelf is weakening and that the ice retreat is happening deeper than what was initially suspected. Study leader Ian Howat, associate professor of Earth sciences at Ohio State, said in a statement, “It’s generally accepted that it’s no longer a question of whether the West Antarctic Ice Sheet will melt, it’s a question of when”. Well it seems clear that if things keep going the way they are it is evident that West Antarctica will collapse ‘in our lifetimes’. Regarding the 2015 iceberg, researchers say that the rift began deep within the shelf and the warming waters due global warming are slowly eating away at the ice. This is a new kind of threat that faces the Antarctica ice sheet where rifts were known to form at margins and not deep inland. This is not an issue that faces only Antarctica; it has been observed that similar breakups have happened in Greenland.

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Drowning

The consequences of these events are small and most of you understand what will happen if sea levels rise. 99 percent of the freshwater ice on Earth comes from Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets. Unfortunately previous papers have suggested that the melting of the West Antarctic Ice sheet is inevitable and we must suffer the consequences. As a result of this event, sea levels will rise to about 10 feet. To understand this better, this rise means that in the US cities like New York and Miami will go underwater.

So, what do you think we should do now?

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