Australian news, and some related international items

Fears Antarctic glacier could melt faster as it speeds up and ice shelf ‘rips apart’

Fears Antarctic glacier could melt faster as it speeds up and ice shelf ‘rips apart’ ABC Science / ABC, By environment reporter Nick Kilvert, 12 June 21,

Antarctica’s Pine Island Glacier has started moving faster again, according to new research.

Key points:

  • The glacier’s movement was stable between 2009 and 2017 but sped up between 2017 and 2020
  • Researchers think the acceleration was caused by the glacier’s ice shelf ‘ripping apart’, reducing friction on the glacier
  • They say it’s possible the ice shelf could break up in the next decade or two

Scientists said the glacier increased its rate of flow toward the Amundsen Sea in West Antarctica by 12 per cent between 2017 and 2020, in a paper published today in Science Advances.

This latest acceleration in flow speed and the mechanisms which caused it, mean the melting of the glacier could be “much more rapid” than previously expected, the researchers said

The Pine Island Glacier has contributed the most to sea-level rise from Antarctica over the past few decades, and holds enough water to raise global sea-levels by half a metre. 

“What is worrying is that we weren’t expecting this much shelf loss from this part of the ice sheet,” said lead author Ian Joughin from the Polar Science Centre at the University of Washington……………..

June 12, 2021 - Posted by | climate change - global warming

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