WAIS

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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 ice volume of Thwaites Glacier?

Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica is currently the focus of a major scientific campaign. Why is Thwaites Glacier of so much interest, however? How much ice is there, and how much would sea levels rise if it all melted? Thwaites Glacier is roughly the size of UK (176 x103 km2). The glacier terminus is nearly …

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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, …

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Mass balance of the Antarctic ice sheet from 1992 to 2017

A new paper with a whole host of authors has just been published in Nature (IMBIE Team, 2018). It provides a new estimate of mass balance of the entire Antarctic Ice Sheet over the last 25 years, the longest and most thorough estimate of this to date. This article argues that the Antarctic Peninsula, the …

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Is the West Antarctic Ice Sheet collapsing?

Marine ice sheet instability The West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) is the world’s most vulnerable ice sheet. This is because it is grounded below sea level, and marine ice sheets such as these are susceptible to rapid melting at their base. Fast-flowing ice streams draining the WAIS (Pine Island Glacier and Thwaites Glacier in particular) …

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