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

Climate: Antarctic icebergs seen as key carbon sinks

Southern Ocean sequesters up to 10 percent of global carbon

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Giant Southern Ocean icebergs are key links in the carbon cycle, according to a new study. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

A new study by the University of Sheffield’s Department of Geography helps confirm the importance of giant Antarctic icebergs as key pieces in the global carbon cycle. The findings were published this week in Nature Geoscience.

The trails of fresh water from the melting slabs of ice contain iron and other nutrients, supporting unexpectedly high levels of phytoplankton growth, the study found.That biological activity, known as carbon sequestration, contributes to the long-term storage of atmospheric carbon dioxide, helping to slow global warming. In all, icebergs may responsible for storing up to 20 percent of carbon in the Southern Ocean, the researchers concluded. Continue reading

Climate: Howling Antarctic winds found to ‘eat’ snow

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New data is changing the understanding of the water cycle in Antarctica. @bberwyn photo.

Climate models may need revamping after scientists measure snow loss

Staff Report

Winds howling across the vast, frozen Antarctic plateaus are scouring the region of moisture by vaporizing most of the airborne snow, scientists said in a new study that could shift estimates of how much the ice-covered continent is contributing to sea level rise. 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

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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