Antarctic glacier thinning at alarming rate

Aug 14, 2009
Antarctic glacier thinning at alarming rate

(PhysOrg.com) -- The thinning of a gigantic glacier in Antarctica is accelerating, scientists warned today.

The Pine Island Glacier in West , which is around twice the size of Scotland, is losing ice four times as fast as it was a decade years ago.

The research, published in the journal , also reveals that ice thinning is now occurring much further inland. At this rate scientists estimate that the main section of the glacier will have disappeared in just 100 years, six times sooner than was previously thought.

The Pine Island Glacier is located within the most inaccessible area of Antarctica - over 1000 km from the nearest research base - and was for many years overlooked. Now, scientists have been able to track the glacier's development using continuous over the past 15years.

"Accelerated thinning of the Pine Island Glacier represents perhaps the greatest imbalance in the cryosphere today, and yet we would not have known about it if it weren't for a succession of satellite instruments," says Professor Andrew Shepherd, a co-author of the research from the School of Earth and Environment at the University of Leeds.

"Being able to assemble a continuous record of measurements over the past 15 years has provided us with the remarkable ability to identify both subtle and dramatic changes in ice that were previously hidden," he adds.

Scientists believe that the retreat of in this sector of Antarctica is caused by warming of the surrounding oceans, though it is too early to link such a trend to global warming.

The 5,400 km squared region of the Pine Island Glacier affected today is big enough to impact the rate at which sea level rise around the world.

"Because the Pine Island Glacier contains enough ice to almost double the IPCC's best estimate of 21st century , the manner in which the glacier will respond to the accelerated thinning is a matter of great concern " says Professor Shepherd.

Source: University of Leeds (news : web)

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User comments : 4

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SincerelyTwo
2.7 / 5 (7) Aug 14, 2009
we're all going to die!!! ahhhhhhhh!!!
VOR
2.5 / 5 (6) Aug 14, 2009
we're all going to see huge changes and terrible concequences to life and economies play out over decades. Like a glacier, we think it won't crush us because its coming so slowly, but it will squeeze us anyway. The impact may be more managable since it won't hit us all at once, but the magnitude of it will be the same. Huge. Huge and worth the investment of trying to mitigate it as much as we can.
wawadave
not rated yet Aug 14, 2009
DPS showing its effects!
Velanarris
5 / 5 (2) Aug 15, 2009
though it is too early to link such a trend to global warming.

This one line alone made me look at the abstract favorably. Since they don't know for sure, they didn't assume and declare from authority.

I'm interested to see what they find going forward.