Warning: Antartic’s coldest region is starting to melt

The Totten Glacier, the biggest glacier, alone contains enough ice to raise the sea levels by 12.6 feet.

The southern parts of the earth comprise of Antarctica continent, a behemoth of vast glacial ice sheets formed over hundreds and thousands of years is melting rapidly than previously, researches had predicted for long ago. Recent research conducted by more than 100 polar scientists, known as Ice Sheet Mass Balance Inter-Comparison Exercise (IMBIE), through data collected between 2012 to 2017 has shown that the West Antarctic lost some 159 billion tons of ice annually, more than twice the rate of the early 2000s.

Totten Glacier

East Antarctica, the coldest place on earth, holding vast sheets of ice, more than three kilometers thick at some places, was previously considered to be stable and not affected by the rising global average temperatures. If anything, it was expected that climate change would bring more snow to its interior, increasing the thickness of its ice sheets.

But that picture is now changing rapidly. Satellite imagery has shown that the eastern glaciers are dumping their ice sheets into the southern ocean at a rate which is worrying for the scientists. Antarctica as a whole contains 90 percent of the global ice cover. Theoretically, it can raise the average global sea levels by 200 feet if all of it melts. The Totten Glacier, the biggest glacier, alone contains enough ice to raise the sea levels by 12.6 feet.

“You want to be scared of something?” says Eric Rignot, a glaciologist at the University of California, Irvine. “That’s the worst-case scenario. Antarctica can do that.” 

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