Antarctic coastal ice thinning surprises experts

By | September 24, 2009

Antarctic coastal ice thinning surprises experts

Scientists are surprised at how extensively coastal ice in Antarctica and Greenland is thinning, according to a study Wednesday that could help predict rising sea levels linked to climate change.

Analysis of millions of NASA satellite laser images showed the biggest loss of ice was caused by glaciers speeding up when they flowed into the sea, according to scientists at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and Bristol University.

“We were surprised to see such a strong pattern of thinning glaciers across such large areas of coastline — it’s widespread and in some cases thinning extends hundreds of kilometers inland,” said Hamish Pritchard of BAS who led the study.

“We think that warm ocean currents reaching the coast and melting the glacier front is the most likely cause of faster glacier flow,” he said in a statement.

“This kind of ice loss is so poorly understood that it remains the most unpredictable part of future sea level rise,” he added. BAS said the study gave the “most comprehensive picture” of the thinning glaciers so far.

Rising seas caused by a thaw of vast stores of ice on Antarctica and Greenland could threaten Pacific islands, coasts from China to the United States and cities from London to Buenos Aires.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said earlier this month global warming, blamed mainly on burning fossil fuels, could raise sea levels by 50 cm to 2 meters (20 inches to 6 ft 6 in) this century — higher than most experts have predicted.

via Antarctic coastal ice thinning surprises experts – Yahoo! News.

7 thoughts on “Antarctic coastal ice thinning surprises experts

  1. Cole

    Didn’t today scientists say that the Earth is starting to cool? Man, it’s hard to keep up with things when no one agrees.

      1. Cole

        Some journal, I can’t remember. I don’t know if it was credible. Never mind. Still, the subject of global warming is something that is hard to discuss because some scientists say it is, some say it isn’t.

      2. Xeno

        The way I make sense of it is to follow the money. Many people don’t seem aware that industry pays scientists to report certain results and not others. While the consensus of scientists is that global warming is happening and is due to human events, industry can always find some voice. Sometimes those voices use “weasel words” so they are seeming to say one thing, but are really saying another. This is my cynical view from what I’ve seen so far. If there are legit scientists in relevant fields claiming global warming is not happening or that man is not to blame, I’d certainly read what they have to say.

        I think the owner of the weather channel came out against global warming, but as it turns out, his degree and expertise was business and communications, he had no education in meteorology or climatology.

        With something as big as the earth and with something as dynamic as the earth’s environment, you can always find examples to support your view (warming, cooling, staying the same) if you limit yourself to a subset of the data. I currently believe that if we look at all the data available (ice cores, glaciers, ocean temperatures, weather records, etc.) we have a clear picture of a warming planet at a time when we should be entering another ice age.

      3. Cole

        Personally, I think global warming is just part of a huge cycle; ad it will cool down again. By the way, have you noticed no one uses the term “global warming” anymore? Now they say “climate change.” Hmm, sounds to me like data wasn’t showing what was expected.

      4. Xeno Post author

        I think, rather, that an average human brain can’t understand that when you warm up the entire planet, some places get colder.

        Melt an iceberg and you get a lot of cold water. That cold water stays cold for a shorter time than the ice, so long term, you get toasted, but in the short term, some places get colder weather than normal from the ice water.

Leave a Reply