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Antarctic glacier melting at an alarming rate

Climate change: what Antarctica’s ‘doomsday glacier’ means for the planet, 

Thwaites Glacier is melting at an alarming rate, triggering fears over rising sea levels Ft.com  Leslie Hook on the Antarctic Peninsula, Steven Bernard and Ian Bott in London , 13 Jul 20, 

 Even by the standards of Antarctica, there are few places as remote and hostile as Thwaites Glacier. More than 1,000 miles from the nearest research base, battered by storms that can last for weeks, with temperatures that hit -40C in winter, working on the glacier is sometimes compared to working on the moon.
 Dubbed the “doomsday” glacier, Thwaites, perhaps more than any other place in the world, holds crucial clues about the future of the planet. Only a handful of people had ever set foot on Thwaites before last year.
Now it is the focus of a major research project, led by British and American teams, as scientists race to understand how the glacier — which is the size of Britain and melting very quickly — is changing, and what that means for how much sea levels rise during our lifetimes.  ……
  understanding the Thwaites Glacier is not just academic — it is crucial for predicting how sea level rises will impact on cities, and how we should prepare for a radically different world. If Thwaites continues to deteriorate, then by the end of the century the glacier could be responsible for centimetres or tens of centimetres of sea level rise.
 “That doesn’t sound like much, but it is,” says David Vaughan, director of science at the British Antarctic Survey. “It is not about the sea coming up the beach slowly over 100 years — it is about one morning you wake up, and an area that has never been flooded in history is flooded.”
 Melting ice threatens US
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https://www.ft.com/content/4ff254ed-960d-4b35-a6c0-1e60a6e79d91

Antarctica holds around 90 per cent of the ice on the planet. It is equivalent to a continent the size of Europe, covered in a blanket of ice 2km thick. And as the planet heats up due to climate change, it doesn’t warm evenly everywhere: the polar regions warm much faster. It puts the icy continent of Antarctica and Greenland, the smaller Arctic region, right at the forefront of global warming. The South Pole has warmed at three times the global rate since 1989, according to a paper published last month.

As Antarctic ice melts and the glaciers slide toward the ocean, Thwaites has a central position, that governs how the other glaciers behave. Right now, Thwaites is like a stopper holding back a lot of the other glaciers in West Antarctica. But scientists are worried that could change. ……..

As Antarctic ice melts and the glaciers slide toward the ocean, Thwaites has a central position, that governs how the other glaciers behave. Right now, Thwaites is like a stopper holding back a lot of the other glaciers in West Antarctica. But scientists are worried that could change.  ……
  Right now climate modellers say sea levels will rise between 61cm and 110cm by the end of the century, assuming the world keeps emitting carbon dioxide at current levels. But if Thwaites collapses faster than expected, then the amount of sea level rise caused by Antarctica could be double what is in the models.   ……
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https://www.ft.com/content/4ff254ed-960d-4b35-a6c0-1e60a6e79d91

Impact of warming oceans The good news is that the Antarctic continent is not melting that much, yet. It currently contributes about 1mm per year to the sea level rise, a third of the annual global increase. But the pace of change at glaciers like Thwaites has accelerated at an alarming rate, even though it would take thousands of years for Antarctica itself to melt.

 As concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increase to levels never before experienced by humans, researchers are trying to understand how the planet is changing.
Antarctica is central to that task. “Antarctica is by far the biggest risk,” in terms of extreme sea level rise, says Anders Levermann, a professor at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, and the author of several papers on the Antarctic ice sheet.  https://www.ft.com/content/4ff254ed-960d-4b35-a6c0-1e60a6e79d91

July 14, 2020 - Posted by | ANTARCTICA, climate change

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