Antarctica was already melting, but much faster

(ORDO NEWS) — Researchers at the Scott Polar Research Institute at the University of Cambridge mapped the seabed near the eastern part of the Antarctic Peninsula with the help of special equipment and calculated the speed of melting glaciers in the distant past.

In a study using an autonomous underwater vehicle soaring above the seabed at a height of 60 meters, a detailed map of the wavy topography was compiled. “By studying the terrain, we were able to determine how ice behaved in the past,” says Scott Polar Research Institute director Julian Dowdeswell.

Ridges with a height of less than 1.5 meters and located at a distance of about 20−25 meters from each other are traces of floating ice floes that rise and fall into the sediment by ebbs and flows. After making these measurements and making a calculation, scientists realized that every day the ice recedes 40-50 meters less than ice. This is about 18 kilometers per year.

Such was the speed of the melting of glaciers 12 thousand years ago, during global warming. Consequently, if the climate continues to warm, the glaciers will melt in a matter of decades.

Bottom relief near Antarctica Dowdeswell et al., Science


Today, glaciers are melting from satellites, noting that in the area of ​​Pine Island, this happens at a speed of about 1.6 kilometers per year – ten times slower than the record discovered by scientists.

Melting ice in Antarctica will not only raise the level of the ocean, but also change its degree of salinity and temperature, which will have serious consequences for the polar currents, weather and ecology.


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