Antarctic underwater glaciers melting at an ‘extreme’ rate

Latest news

    Using satellites, researchers tracked about 16,000km of coastline and 65 glaciers [Alexandre Meneghini/Reuters]

    Antarctic underwater glaciers are eroding at an alarming rate, with eight of 65 observed glaciers retreating at an “extreme” pace, new research has found.

    According to the study, 1,463km2 of ice melted between 2010 and 2016, an area slightly smaller than the Greater London area.

    The study found more than 10 percent of Antarctica‘s coastal glacier are currently retreating more than 25 metres per year.

    The results of the research was published in scientific journal Nature Geoscience on Monday.

    Hannes Konrad, lead of the research team at the University of Leeds, said in a statement the evidence shows the glacier retreat is happening on the entire continent.

    “Our study provides clear evidence that retreat is happening across the ice sheet due to ocean melting at its base, and not just at the few spots that have been mapped before now,” Konrad said. 

    Ice loss had been especially significant in West Antarctica, where the retreat of the Thwaites Glacier has sped up in the period the research was done.

    However, Pine Island Glacier had stopped retreating, despite it being the fastest diminishing glacier up until now.

    These differences emphasise the complex nature of ice sheet instability across the continent, and being able to detect them helps us to pinpoint areas that deserve further investigation,” Konrad said.



    Using satellites, the research team tracked about 16,000km of coastline and 65 glaciers following so-called grounding lines.

    These grounding lines are the underwater spots where glaciers touch the sea bottom, usually a kilometre below sea level.

    By studying the height of the glacier’s surface using the satellites, the researchers could determine how much of the submerged ice had melted. Your browser does not support the video tag.

    One of the main causes for the increased retreat is the warming of sea water because of climate change.

    Warmer waters at lower depths have led to the underwater ice sheets melting at a higher rate.


    “This retreat has had a huge impact on inland glaciers, because releasing them from the sea bed removes friction, causing them to speed up and contribute to global sea level rise,” Konrad said.

    Despite the vast majority of the glaciers retreating, a small amount of them have increased in size, with the largest glacier in East Antarctica, the Totten glacier, as the most prominent example.

    In total, only 1.9 percent of all Antarctic glaciers were growing at a significant rate.

    View the original article:

    It is expected that the data gathered for this study will play an important role in the coming years in determining at which rate sea levels will rise over the next decades.

    In the same category are

    Tanzania begins to bury dead as ferry disaster toll hits 224 Tanzania's Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa has led the funerals on the island of Ukara Tanzania's Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa has led "national f...
    Filmmaker James Ricketson back in Australia after Cambodia pardon Ricketson was given a six-year jail sentence for espionage last year after flying a drone over an opposition rally Australian filmmaker James Ricke...
    ‘This shouldn’t be happening’: Civilian deaths spike in Yemen According to the UN, the three-year war has unleashed the world's most urgent humanitarian crisis At least 349 civilians have been killed in Yemen'...
    Temperatures plunge as cold air sweeps across Eastern Europe Cold weather is charging across Eastern Europe as the region prepares for its first Arctic blast after the summer. The leading edge of the frigid weat...
    Russia says Israeli role in Syria plane downing was premeditated Israeli pilots' actions that led to the downing of a Russian plane were allegedly "premeditated" The Kremlin has accused Israel of "premeditated ac...
    Kerdasa trial: Court upholds death sentences for 20 Egyptians Defendants stand behind bars in the 'Kerdasa massacre' case, after an attack that killed 14 policemen in 2013 in Cairo A court in Cairo has upheld ...

    Leave a comment

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.