The West Antarctic Ice Sheet may actually be in danger of collapse due to rising global temperatures.
In the future, the southern ocean may heat up due to global warming. This could cause the West Antarctic Ice Sheet to undergo a meltdown. It's very stability is at stake. The consequences would be devastating.
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For one thing, sea levels would rise by a few meters. This act may have occurred during the time that has elapsed since the last Ice Age some 125,000 years ago.
During this time, the polar surface temperature was 2 degrees higher than it is at present. Many model simulations were made of these scenarios and the results were published in a journal.
Antarctica and Greenland have frozen ice sheets that store the majority of the world’s fresh water. As temperatures soar, these ice rinks start melting.
The rising sea levels are a constant threat to the coastal areas of the world where giant tsunamis could build up leading to loss of life and infrastructure. Even today every single year, 0.4 mm of sea rise occurs. The latest reports say that all is not clear about the Antarctic region.
Climate models are being developed and used to predict future scenarios. Given the current rate of global warming, the melting of the Antarctic Ice Sheet would be rapid indeed.
By the time the next millennium shows up, the entire land mass of the Antarctic region could have disappeared from view. Since the last interglacial period, the total sea rise has been about 7 meters.
It is not Greenland alone that is responsible for the rise in sea level since the past eras. The Antarctic is part of the equation. How the Ice Sheet behaves in the future is a source of conjecture. But it doesn’t look good at all.
As the ice sheets melt, the large pieces of ice float out to sea. The dynamics and mechanics of the ice sheets as they go forth into the bodies of waters are very complex.
Climate scientists used two models. One employs vegetation, atmosphere and oceans as the markers. The other is a dynamic ice sheet model which includes other components such as floating ice shelves, inland ice and movements of the grounding line.
The ice sheet does not simply stay put on the continent. Rather it is subject to change. Feedback and systematic loops are part of the system. The chief question remains that how fast is the meltdown taking place and what can we do to stop it.
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The researchers of the Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) have done this study that was published online in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.