“It looks like we’ve lost control of melting of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet,’ she says. ‘If we wanted to preserve it in its historical state, we would have needed action on climate change decades ago.’
“We’re doing about the most we can do right now to study the possible collapse of the west ice sheet,” said Dr. Richard Cameron, NSF program manager for glaciology. “It has become an area of concern because we could be on the brink of a rise in sea levels.”
“We believe that the west ice sheet is unstable, that it has been rapidly disintegrating in geological terms for the last 6000 years, and that is is possible that in 300 years the west sheet could collapse,” said Hughes.
THE STAGGERING aspect of the research is the discovery of a potentially catastrophic phenomenon that had been totally unexpected.
‘We’re seeing the West ice sheet on its way out,” said Cameron. “It seems to be doing something completely different than the east ice sheet. It has nothing to do with a warmer climate, just the dynamics of unstable ice.”
“The Great Ice Barrier which fronts the continent with a wall of ice for 250 miles has receded at least 30 miles since it was first seen and surveyed. Sir James Ross, who went out on the earliest Antarctic expedition of the nineteenth century, and those who followed him, left clear descriptions of this tremendous ice frontage and its position. It was a cliff 150ft. high and 1000ft. thick. But now it appears to be continuing its century-long process of shrinking; and that process may have been going on for centuries.”
“new research suggests that the massive Ross Ice Shelf, which has long been considered stable, might be at risk as well — potentially leading to a slower sea level rise of up to 38 feet”