New findings: West Antarctic Ice Sheet is inherently vulnerable to change and creates “unstoppable” ocean rise.
This report on NASA’s new study, led by glaciologist Eric Rignot at NASA’s JPL and the of UC Irvine, points to dramatic and “unstoppable” melting and contribution of the West Antarctica ice sheet to ocean levels. The gist is that the grounding line–the point at which ice and ocean meet below the waterline–is receding as it erodes the ice below the surface with warm water, essentially transforming glacial ice mass into ice shelves.
This finding, which represents decades of research from NASA, points to ice valleys around the Pine island glacier in West Antarctica among six others in the Amundsen Sea region which are below sea level for hundreds of kilometers inland. This sets a positive feedback of receding grounding line for that entire regions for six similar glaciers. With no hill below the ice to slow or stop the water from eroding the ice, there is no way of effectively stop the melting of the Antarctica ice over the next couple of centuries, which alone will contribute to four feet of global ocean rise.
To further this dramatic finding, the positive loop on other regions of the world such as the East Antarctic ice or the Greenland ice sheet will affect the configuration of other ice shelves further increasing ocean rise over the coming century.
The full recorded report including media questions can be heard here.
A digest of those findings can be read here.