A Key Glacier In West Antarctica Is Breaking Apart From The Inside Out

Posted: Nov 28 2016, 3:55am CST | by , in News | Latest Science News

 

A Key Glacier in West Antarctica is Breaking Apart From the Inside Out
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  • West Antarctic ice shelf breaking up from the inside out
 

The ice shelf in Western Antarctica is facing internal disintegration.

An important glacier in the Antarctic region is facing imminent breakdown from its internal contradictions. It looks like the ocean is causing cracks in the ice shelves on the sides of the continent.

Termed the Pine Island Glacier, it is part of the ice shelf that links the West Antarctic ice sheet. It happens to be one of two glaciers that will be retreating with the passage of time.

More ice from the inner loci will be brought into the ambit of the ocean. Such a meltdown would obviously cause flooding along the coastal cities of the global village. 

A 225 square mile iceberg broke loose from the glacier in 2015. As researchers were gauging some image processing software, they observed some strange satellite pics.

These were taken before the catastrophe. A rift had formed at the base of the ice shelf about 20 miles inland in 2013. For a two year period, it went upwards but then it punctured the ice surface and caused the iceberg to undergo drift. This lasted 12 days in July and August of 2015.  

This event was mentioned in a journal. Apparently, it is no longer just a matter of the ice sheet melting. It is a question of when this will happen. The inevitability of the event is such that it cannot be doubted.

The drift is a phenomenon that may cause a total meltdown of Western Antarctica within our lifetimes. Although such an event is occurring for the first time in Antarctica, it has already occurred in the Greenland ice sheet.

Some of the water has slipped inland and has caused melting to take place. Rifts have formed at the edges of the ice sheet where it is delicate and liable to shredding.   

Yet this latest event in Pine Island Glacier was due to the internal dynamics of the region. This effect was carried out to the edges. The fault-line at the center extended all the way to the periphery.

The warmth of the ocean must have melted a crevasse at the center. The rift yawned widely from the bottom where the weakness began in the first place.

This intrusion of ocean water had penetrated deep into the core of the ice shelf. With greater ice loss in the Antarctic region, the future looks precarious indeed. This instability could cause Antarctica to collapse within the next century or so. 

The findings of this research published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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