Climate study says West Antarctic Ice Sheet could melt quickly

The ice fields of Antarctica

How quickly will the West Antarctic Ice Sheet melt away under global warming? @bberwyn photo.

‘All signs suggest the ice from West Antarctica could disappear relatively quickly …’

Staff Report

An in-depth survey of Antarctica’s rugged Ellsworth Mountains suggests that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet could melt quickly under the influence of global warming, potentially raising global sea level by three meters.

“It is possible that the ice sheet has passed the point of no return and, if so, the big question is how much will go and how much will sea levels rise,” said Professor John Woodward, of the University of Northumbria. Continue reading

The grandest of canyons?

The ice fields of Antarctica

Is the world’s largest canyon hidden under the Antarctic Ice Sheet? @bberwyn photo.

Researchers find vast chasm hidden beneath the ice of East Antarctica

Staff Report

Deep under the Antarctic ice sheet, there may be a chasm that’s as deep as the Grand Canyon, but many times longer, according to new geologic research led by scientists with Durham University.

The canyon system is made up of a chain of winding and linear features buried under several kilometres of ice in one of the last unexplored regions of the Earth’s land surface: Princess Elizabeth Land (PEL) in East Antarctica. Continue reading

Environment: Is climate change to blame for giant petrel decline in South Orkney Islands?

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The Southern Ocean’s pelagic birds may be vulnerable to global warming changes like melting sea ice. @bberwyn photo.

Study tracks sudden drop in numbers at important breeding site in Southern Ocean

Staff Report

Scientists with the British Antarctic Survey reported a big drop in the population of giant petrels at an important breeding site in the South Orkney Islands, northeast of the Antarctic Peninsula.

The long-term study found cyclical fluctuations in breeding success, showing that the birds defer breeding in less than optimal conditions. But the drop in numbers the past 10 to 15 years is alarming, according to the findings published in the journal Polar Biology online. Continue reading

Adélie penguins could be climate change ‘winners’

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Adélie penguin populations are growing as Antarctica warms up. @bberwyn photo.

Study shows growing population since end of last ice age

Staff Report

Global warming is expected to take a toll on some penguin populations, but other species could thrive — at least for a while.

Shrinking glaciers are opening new breeding areas for Adélie penguins in East Antarctica, perpetuating a 14,000-year trend of population increases, according to a new study published in the open access journal, BMC Evolutionary Biology. Continue reading

Climate: Study tracks loss of biodiversity near melting Antarctic glaciers

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How will global warming affect marine ecosystems around the Antarctic Peninsula? @bberwyn photo.

Increasing sediment load affects bottom-dwelling sea creatures

Staff Report

A series of research dives around the Antarctic Peninsula suggest that melting glaciers are diminishing the region’s biodiversity. Scientists think the main cause may be increased levels of sediment in the water.

Over the past five decades, temperatures have risen nearly five times as rapidly on the western Antarctic Peninsula than the global average. Yet the impacts of the resulting retreat of glaciers on bottom-dwelling organisms remain unclear. Continue reading

Antarctic ice susceptible to climate domino effect

New study says melting of small Amundsen Basin likely to trigger a climate tipping point

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The meltdown of West Antarctica’s ice sheets is likely already under way. @berwyn photo.

Staff Report

Just a small shift in the Antarctic climate could have long-lasting consequences on a global scale, according to a new research paper that once again takes a close look at the fate of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.

Based on the new study, destabilization of the relatively small Amundsen Basin — triggered by a few decades of ocean warming — could trigger a massive ice loss from the West Antarctica Ice Sheet that would raise global sea level by 10 feet. Other recent studies show that this area is already losing stability, making it the first element in the climate system about to tip. Continue reading

Antarctica snowfall may be outpacing glacier melt

Still a few decades from meltdown

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Satellite data shows nuance in Antarctica’s global warming equation. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

A new analysis of satellite data suggest that snow accumulation in Antarctica is outpacing the meltdown of glaciers on the frozen continent, at least for now. The findings of the the new NASA research differ from other recent studies, which have found that, overall, Antarctica is losing land ice. Continue reading

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