Antarctic Ice Shelves Are Thinning Very Quickly

Climate change is real and more and more scientists and climate professionals are sounding the warning bells about just how much of an impact it’s going to have. Even those who were once against the idea of human impact on the climate are coming around and recognizing that not only is climate change our fault, but that it’s quickly becoming closer and closer to the point of no return. Even the military has said that climate change is quickly becoming our highest national security concern. With this constantly depressing news flooding in, you would think that nothing could get worse. Well, you’re wrong. A recent study by the Scripps Institute of Oceanography at UC San Diego has shown just how much climate change is affecting our coldest regions around the world.

Credit: Helen Amanda Fricker, Professor, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego

The news coming from places like Alaska is already dire with snow not falling and people coming to terms with the fact that change is real and happening now. The recently released study just goes further towards proving what is already known — climate change is real and is having real effects and we need to do something now because it’s quickly becoming too late. The study reveals that the thickness of Antarctica’s floating ice shelves has decreased by as much as 18% in certain areas and isn’t going to stop anytime soon. The report takes data from over the past 2 decades from scientific satellites that monitor the ice shelves and their melt rate and shows that the decline in volume is accelerating as time goes on.

The study focused on the ice shelves from 1994–2012 and notices some very disturbing trends. From 1993–2004 the ice shelves changed very little and there was no melting of any worrisome sort. However after 2003, the ice shelves started to rapidly melt, meaning that most of the losses discovered took place in a decade. Not only did most of the noticeable losses take place over one decade, there was also a constant acceleration in the melting rate of the ice shelves. These shelves don’t directly affect sea levels rising but they have an indirect effect on events such as El Ninos and hurricanes across the globe. They buttress the flow of grounded ice into the oceans and that does directly affect the rising of sea levels. While this study is invaluable, it’s also incredibly worrisome and hopefully we can learn from it to start working against climate change.

If you’d like to read more, the link is here.