Antarctic glacier beyond point of no return

2014-01-13 19:02
Pine Island Glacier (NASA)

Pine Island Glacier (NASA)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Paris - Antarctica's Pine Island Glacier, one of the biggest single contributors to world sea-level rise, is melting irreversibly and could add as much as a centimetre to ocean levels in 20 years, a study said Sunday.

The glacier "has started a phase of self-sustained retreat and will irreversibly continue its decline," said Gael Durand, a glaciologist with France's Grenoble Alps University.

Durand and an international team used three different models to forecast the glacier's future based on the "grounding line," which is the area under water where the ice shelf - a sea-floating extension of the continent-covering ice sheet - meets land.

This line has receded by about 10km in the past decade.

The grounding line "is probably engaged in an unstable 40km retreat," said the study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

A massive river of ice, the glacier by itself is responsible for 20% of total ice loss from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet today.

On average, it shed 20 billion tons of ice annually from 1992-2011, a loss that is likely to increase up to and above 100 billion tons each year, said the study.

This is equivalent to 3.5-10mm of global average sea-level rise over the next 20 years.

The global mean sea level rose by 3.2mm in 2010 - itself a near-doubling from the rate of two decades earlier.

The European Space Agency said last month that the West Antarctic ice sheet was shedding ice at a much faster rate than before - currently at about 150 cubic kilometres per year.

Climate scientists are keeping a worried eye on the mighty ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica, as continued losses could threaten vulnerable coastal cities with dangerously high sea levels.

Last year, the United Nations' climate science body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projected sea levels would rise between 26 and 82cm by 2100.

Read more on:    nature journal  |  antarctica  |  global warming

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
17 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.