According to a new study, the Antarctic ice sheet is melting quickly – and it’s losing more than 240 billion tons of ice each year. By the end of the century, scientists predict that sea levels will rise by 6 inches, and that means that the sea could threaten coastal communities earlier than scientists expected. Now, they’re saying that the U.S.’s East Coast could be hit the hardest. The study, published in Nature, says that before 2012, the ice losses weren’t contributing a huge amount to global sea level rises. However, now ice loss has tripled.
Further, scientists warn that Antarctica’s rapid meltdown may mean there’s less time to prepare and protect vulnerable communities.
Scientists have proven that glaciers alleviate sea-level rise by keeping water out of the ocean and that each creates a strong enough field of gravity to pull ocean water from other places on the planet. When the Antarctic ice sheet melts, its gravitational field stops pulling water from the U.S.’s East Coast. That means in addition to more water in the seas, the water that the ice sheet pulled from our coastal areas will come flooding back in. For every centimeter of sea-level rise from the western part of Antarctica, areas like Boston feels an additional 25 percent – so people there will experience a 1.25-centimeter rise.
To make matters worse, recent research uncovered magma fueling volcanoes under Antarctica. It’s a hotspot much like the one beneath Hawaii and the one that fuels all the geothermal activity in Yellowstone National Park.
Scientists say that there’s still time to mitigate the worst possible effects, but not much. It would require dramatic action across the world within the next decade to head off these impending catastrophes, but even the actions we take now might not be enough.
What Do You Think?
Do you think there’s anything we can do to help prevent the Antarctic ice sheet from melting away, or is it out of our hands (or too late)? I’d love to see fun facts and other interesting info you’ve learned, so please share them on my Facebook page or on Twitter.