WAIS

Mapping the glacier bed: Radio Echo Sounding

By Becky Sanderson, Newcastle University To know how much ice we have in the world, we need to know the bed of the glacier and the thickness of the ice. But how can we peer down through hundreds of metres of ice to know the ice thickness? Using radar, we see water flowing or ponding … Read more

Case study: In situ 14C exposure age dating in Antarctica

This page was written by Dr Keir Nichols, who is using 14C exposure age dating to unravel the past behaviour of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS). Given that the ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland contain enough water to raise global sea level by about 65 metres, it is important to understand how ice … Read more

Antarctica and Climate Change

Since the early 20th Century, global air temperatures have shown an increasing trend. This pattern has coincided with the continuous release of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. The rising temperatures are already having negative effects on many of our natural environments including, oceans, deserts, and glacial landscapes, including Antarctica. The warming stripes below show annual … Read more

Changing Antarctica

Antarctica is a vast ice sheet. The continent is larger than the United States of America, and has enough ice to raise global sea levels by ~58 m if it all melted. It is extremely cold, with very little surface melt. However, it is changing rapidly. Parts of West Antarctica are grounded well below sea … Read more

West Antarctic Ice Sheet

These pages cover information on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. This is the part of Antarctica west of the Transantarctic Mountains. It is characterised by a bed that is largely below sea level. The two largest ice streams draining the West Antarctic Ice Sheet are Pine Island Glacier and Thwaites Glacier. Other relevant articles: What … Read more

Thwaites Glacier

Thwaites Glacier, Antarctica, is of particular concern to scientists. Here, warm water is pushed up onto the continental shelf, where it flows along the bottom until it reaches the floating ice shelf in front of Thwaites Glacier. Thwaites Glacier today is rapidly losing mass in response to changing atmospheric and oceanic conditions.

What is the global volume of land ice and how is it changing?

How much land ice is there in the World? Most (99.5%) of the permanent ice volume in the world is locked up in ice sheets and glaciers. The Antarctic Ice Sheet is the largest store of frozen freshwater; it would raise sea levels by 57.9 m (its “sea level equivalent”, or SLE) on full melting … Read more

Choosing the future of Antarctica

In a new article in the journal Nature, Stephen Rintoul and colleagues present two very different visions of Antarctica’s future, from the perspective of an observer looking back from 2070. In one vision, humanity continues to exploit Earth’s natural resources (such as fossils fuels) and does little to protect the environment, and in the other, … Read more

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