Antarctic glaciers melting ‘passed point of no return’
30 January 2023
Currently, the Antartic’s vast glaciers are rapidly melting and losing ice to the sea, and, according to experts, we have reached the point of no return. And if you have ever wondered why climate change has been so aggressive lately, this is probably the true reason.
Although all the consequences are deadly for any species, it seems that glacier melt could represent one of the most catastrophic dangers of all. From a likely rise in global sea level of 4 feet or more to the partial or total disappearance of some species, the scientists are very worried about all the changes that are waiting for us in the coming centuries.
What’s more, the results of research made public Monday by scientists at the University of Washington, the University of California-Irvine, and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory don’t show any encouraging data.
“It really is an amazingly distressing situation,” says Pennsylvania State University glaciologist Sridhar Anandakrishnan, who was not affiliated with either study. “This is a huge part of West Antarctica, and it seems to have been kicked over the edge.”
Glaciers beyond hope
Sadly, the researchers say the fate of the glaciers is almost certainly beyond hope and the total collapse of almost all water bodies, such as lakes, rivers, wetlands, and lagoons, is imminent. A clear example of this is the river of ice called Thwaites Glacier, which is probably in the early stages of collapse.
On the other hand, we have a second study that proves that a half-dozen glaciers are pouring ice into the sea at an ever-greater pace. That will trigger 4 feet of sea-level rise, stated the study author Eric Rignot, a glaciologist at the University of California-Irvine, and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
The point of no return
“The retreat of ice in that area is unstoppable,” Rignot said at a briefing Monday, adding that the glaciers have “passed the point of no return.” As you see, in order to monitor the backlash, Rignot and his team used data from satellites and aircraft to map changes in six West Antarctic glaciers and the terrain underlying these massive ice floes.
Of course, the picture presented by the professor with his research was even more discouraging. The data show the glaciers are stretching out, thinning, and shrinking in volume. They’re also flowing faster from the continent’s interior to the sea, dumping larger quantities of ice into the ocean than before and thereby raising sea levels.
At the same time, the portion of each glacier projecting into the sea is being melted from below by warm ocean water. Which, in fact, leads to a vicious cycle of more thinning and faster flow, and the local terrain offers no barrier to the glaciers’ retreat, the researchers report in an upcoming issue of Geophysical Research Letters.
As if that were not enough, a report in this week’s Science says the Thwaites Glacier will collapse, perhaps in 200 years. The paper doesn’t specify the amount of sea-level rise associated with Thwaites’ demise.
In short, this is the sad reality that awaits humanity due to the waste of resources and their abuse. Likewise, there have been countless warnings from scientists, and it is necessary to develop an action plan to remedy the situation.