Scientists fear results of collapsed ice shelf

By JOHN HENZELL, The Press newspaper, Christchurch, New Zealand

The Ross Ice Shelf, a raft of ice the size of France, could collapse quickly, triggering a dramatic rise in sea levels, scientists warn.

A New Zealand-led drilling team in Antarctica has recovered three million years of climate history, but the news is not good for the future.

Initial analysis of sea-floor cores near Scott Base suggest the Ross Ice Shelf had collapsed in the past and had probably done so suddenly.

The team’s co-chief scientist, Tim Naish, said the sediment record was important because it provided crucial evidence about how the Ross Ice Shelf would react to climate change, with potential to dramatically increase sea levels.

“If the past is any indication of the future, then the ice shelf will collapse,” he said.

“If the ice shelf goes, then what about the West Antarctic Ice Sheet? What we’ve learnt from the Antarctic Peninsula is when once buttressing ice sheets go, the glaciers feeding them move faster and that’s the thing that isn’t so cheery.”

Antarctica stores 90 per cent of the world’s water, with the the West Antarctic Ice Sheet holding an estimated 30 million cubic kilometres.

In January, British Antarctic Survey researchers predicted that its collapse would make sea levels rise by at least 5m (16ft), with other estimates predicting a rise of up to 17m (55ft).

More…

Comments are closed.