Scientists worried about the unexpected collapse of an ice shelf in East Antarctica

Scientists worried about the unexpected collapse of an ice shelf in East Antarctica We're probably seeing the result of a lot of warming oceans there over a long period of time, during which the ice has been constantly melting.  On March 25, the Associated Press announced in a report the collapse of an ice shelf in East Antarctica, an area previously considered stable. According to the agency, the collapsed escarpment is larger than New York City, with an estimated area of ​​460 square miles.  This is the first time that the frozen area has witnessed the collapse of an ice shelf, which was captured in satellite images. According to the report published on the Science Alret website, this collapse occurred with the start of a strange warm wave that occurred last week when temperatures rose more than usual in some areas of East Antarctica.  This satellite image provided by NASA shows Aqua MODIS 16 on March 2022, shows C-38 in one piece chasing the main piece of C-37 moving west on the coastal current.  Scientists are concerned because an ice shelf is the size of New York City collapsed in East Antarctica, an area that had long been thought to be stable.  The collapse last week was the first time scientists have ever seen an ice shelf collapse in this cold area of ​​Antarctica.  (NASA via AP)  Uncertainty about the stability of eastern Antarctica The Associated Press report said that satellite imagery has shown that the area has been shrinking rapidly in the past two years, which has raised scientists' suspicions that they may have overestimated the stability of East Antarctica and its resilience to global warming that is accelerating the melting of ice on its western side.  Glaciologist Kathryn Walker of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute commented that the ice shelf, about 1,200 kilometers wide, between the Conger and Glenzer glaciers collapsed between March 14 and 16. She added that scientists had never seen such an event in this part of the continent, which made it worrying for them.  Peter Neff, a glaciologist at the University of Minnesota, expressed how strange the event was in a TikTok video where he said, "We didn't really expect to see the collapse of an ice shelf in this part of Antarctica, which is one of the driest and coldest areas in the east of the continent. Antarctica".  According to the report, Walker and Neff believe that the issue is not about how much ice was lost in this avalanche, but rather about where the avalanche occurred.  And if the previous assumptions about the stability of East Antarctica were wrong, this means that it is likely that the frozen waters will thaw there, which is disastrous.  Sea ​​level rise disaster It takes thousands of years for water in East Antarctica to melt, if not longer. But this melting will raise sea levels by more than 50 meters worldwide, which is more than 5 times the ice in the more vulnerable West Antarctic Ice Sheet and once considered a research hotspot.  Helen Amanda Fricker, co-director of the Scripps Polar Center at the University of California San Diego, pointed out the need to take care of this part of the continent and said, "As East Antarctica begins to change, we need to know how stable each layer of ice shelves there is." Because once one of them disappears, that means the glaciers are melting into the warm water, and some of that water will reach San Diego and other places as well."  Scientists have long believed that this particular ice shelf - which is closest to Australia - has been shrinking slightly since the 1970s, Neff said. In 2020, the ice shelf melt has accelerated, Walker said, halving its volume almost every month.  Catastrophe caused by global warming "It is possible that the last heat wave was the straw that broke the camel's back," Walker told the Associated Press. "It is possible that we are seeing the result of a lot of warming of the oceans there over a long period of time, during which the ice was constantly melting."  In light of the wave of overwhelming anxiety that afflicted the scientific community, Rob Larter, a British geophysicist specializing in the Antarctic survey, believes that most of East Antarctica is safe and relatively unvulnerable, "and there are sectors at risk in it."   "Global climate change around East Antarctica is cutting and sculpting the edges of the ice sheets in some places, but it's actually adding more snow to the central region," he added.

We're probably seeing the result of a lot of warming oceans there over a long period of time, during which the ice has been constantly melting.

On March 25, the Associated Press announced in a report the collapse of an ice shelf in East Antarctica, an area previously considered stable. According to the agency, the collapsed escarpment is larger than New York City, with an estimated area of ​​460 square miles.

This is the first time that the frozen area has witnessed the collapse of an ice shelf, which was captured in satellite images. According to the report published on the Science Alret website, this collapse occurred with the start of a strange warm wave that occurred last week when temperatures rose more than usual in some areas of East Antarctica.

Uncertainty about the stability of eastern Antarctica
The Associated Press report said that satellite imagery has shown that the area has been shrinking rapidly in the past two years, which has raised scientists' suspicions that they may have overestimated the stability of East Antarctica and its resilience to global warming that is accelerating the melting of ice on its western side.

Glaciologist Kathryn Walker of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute commented that the ice shelf, about 1,200 kilometers wide, between the Conger and Glenzer glaciers collapsed between March 14 and 16. She added that scientists had never seen such an event in this part of the continent, which made it worrying for them.

Peter Neff, a glaciologist at the University of Minnesota, expressed how strange the event was in a TikTok video where he said, "We didn't really expect to see the collapse of an ice shelf in this part of Antarctica, which is one of the driest and coldest areas in the east of the continent. Antarctica".

According to the report, Walker and Neff believe that the issue is not about how much ice was lost in this avalanche, but rather about where the avalanche occurred.

And if the previous assumptions about the stability of East Antarctica were wrong, this means that it is likely that the frozen waters will thaw there, which is disastrous.

Sea ​​level rise disaster
It takes thousands of years for water in East Antarctica to melt, if not longer. But this melting will raise sea levels by more than 50 meters worldwide, which is more than 5 times the ice in the more vulnerable West Antarctic Ice Sheet and once considered a research hotspot.

Helen Amanda Fricker, co-director of the Scripps Polar Center at the University of California San Diego, pointed out the need to take care of this part of the continent and said, "As East Antarctica begins to change, we need to know how stable each layer of ice shelves there is." Because once one of them disappears, that means the glaciers are melting into the warm water, and some of that water will reach San Diego and other places as well."

Scientists have long believed that this particular ice shelf - which is closest to Australia - has been shrinking slightly since the 1970s, Neff said. In 2020, the ice shelf melt has accelerated, Walker said, halving its volume almost every month.

Catastrophe caused by global warming
"It is possible that the last heat wave was the straw that broke the camel's back," Walker told the Associated Press. "It is possible that we are seeing the result of a lot of warming of the oceans there over a long period of time, during which the ice was constantly melting."

In light of the wave of overwhelming anxiety that afflicted the scientific community, Rob Larter, a British geophysicist specializing in the Antarctic survey, believes that most of East Antarctica is safe and relatively unvulnerable, "and there are sectors at risk in it."


"Global climate change around East Antarctica is cutting and sculpting the edges of the ice sheets in some places, but it's actually adding more snow to the central region," he added.
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