Western Antarctica glaciers are losing ice at an astronomical rate. According to a recent study, the amount of ice lost in those glaciers off the western coast of Antarctica is equivalent to the height of Mount Everest every two years – averaging to 83 billion tons annually over the last 21 years. The study used satellite measurements to understand the amount of ice, and make the measurements that confirmed what scientists have long feared.
This though isn’t the first study that has shown results like this as Eric Rignot, a glaciologist at the University of California, the melting in Antarctica has reached an irreversible point and the sea level in the region would raise 1.2 meters over the next 200 years as result. The impact wouldn’t be exclusively to Antarctica though, “This retreat will have major consequences for sea level rise worldwide,” he added.
The situation has gotten so bad that two massive glaciers that were once considered indestructible are on the verge of collapse as they have lost so much ice from the warming. The giant Pine Island Glacier and the Thwaites Glacier are both on their way to becoming distant memories in the Arctic waters – and the consequences of that would be vast throughout the rest of the world in terms of sea level. Globally, sea level increases of as much as 60 centimeters in the next two centuries.
Many though have been asking how such a thing could happen. Scientists are looking at the temperature and currents of water above the continental shelf where the water has tended to be slightly warmer than where the water is significantly deeper. However, scientists don’t believe depth is the cause, either. Researchers have been looking at these waters for a number of years to understand what current, or cause, could possibly be making the waters closest to Antarctica warm enough to cause this type of melting. Temperature rise though isn’t the only unique thing happening in these waters – as they have been slowly becoming less salty. An evolving salinity pattern has been something that’s jumping out to scientists and researchers alike as a possible place to start looking for answers to the massive melt.
Right now, scientists believe that the most-likely reason behind the water warming is the fact that the increased wind, and increased instability in the atmosphere, alongside an increase in greenhouse gases, and a reduction of the ozone – ocean waters are getting moved around in patterns that they haven’t before. At the very least the patterns haven’t been as extreme as they are today when it comes to ocean pattern.