Stable Antarctic Ice Is Suddenly Melting Fast – Sea levels worldwide will rise higher than anticipated, thanks to a new once-stable region of Antarctica that is suddenly melting, and at a fast rate.
Analysis of satellite data shows that although the massive ice sheet on the Southern Antarctic Peninsula, made up of multiple glaciers, was rock solid from 2000 to 2009, since then it has begun to melt rapidly. The glaciers, stretching along 750 kilometers of coastline, are shedding 60 cubic kilometers of ice into the ocean each year—about 70,000 Empire State Buildings of ice annually.
Bert Wouters, a fellow at the University of Bristol, who led the analysis, published in the May 22 issue of Science said, The onset of such rapid loss “came as a surprise to us.” In just a few years, he says, the dynamics of the region “completely shifted.”
Scientists say the likely cause is a change in winds across the Southern Ocean, a result of climate change. The shifting winds are pushing warmer water toward the ice shelves, melting them from below, and against the glacial ice along the coast, melting it as well.