Skip to content

Study: Glacier that contributes most to rising sea levels reaches tipping point

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
1/17/2014 (3 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Pine Island Glacier hits uncontrollable retreat and could collapse within a few decades, scientists say

It's an alarming bit of news that raises concern for the world's ecology over the course of the next several decades. The Pine Island Glacier, which contributes more to sea level rise than any other glacier on Antarctica has hit a tipping point of uncontrollable retreat. The massive land mass could collapse as soon as the next 20 years, scientists say.

The researcher's findings suggest that this would cause the glacier to uncontrollably retreat about 25 miles over the next several decades, potentially raising global sea levels by more than 0.4 inches.

The researcher's findings suggest that this would cause the glacier to uncontrollably retreat about 25 miles over the next several decades, potentially raising global sea levels by more than 0.4 inches.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
1/17/2014 (3 years ago)

Published in Green

Keywords: Pine Island Glacier, melting, tipping point, shelf, Antarctica


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The glacier accounts for about 20 percent of the total ice flow on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, which is a collection of glaciers that covers roughly 800,000 square miles. The landmass makes up about 10 percent of the total ice on Antarctica.

Researchers think that, given the size of Pine Island Glacier, its collapse could have an overall "domino effect" on surrounding glaciers. Over the course of many years would eventually lead to the collapse of the entire ice sheet, which would raise average global sea level by between 10 and 16 feet.

Remember Saint Nicholas with this special prayer card!

The Pine Island Glacier is by far the least stable of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet ice flows. The glacier's melting rate has accelerated due to relatively warm ocean currents that have seeped underneath its base and lubricated its flow seaward.

As the glacier slip further into the ocean, its ice shelf, the part that floats on water and extends beyond the glacier's base, disintegrates through a natural process called calving. An iceberg larger than the city of Chicago broke off into the surrounding Amundsen Sea last year.

Given the complicated nature of glacial dynamics, attempts to map out the disintegration have been limited and prone to error. Such variable such as precipitation, wind patterns, atmospheric temperatures, oceanic currents and the shape of bedrock underneath the glacier are only some of the many factors that control glacial growth and retreat.

Models predicting glacial behavior using mathematical figures are therefore very complicated and always prone to some degree of error.

Researchers based at the French National Center for Scientific Research in Grenoble have now developed state-of-the-art models that, while still limited, provide the best estimates yet of the future behavior of Pine Island Glacier. The glacier's grounding line, the point where glacier and its ice shelf meet is about to retreat over an oceanic trench that would increase the amount of water that seeps underneath and melts the glacier.

The researcher's findings suggest that this would cause the glacier to uncontrollably retreat about 25 miles over the next several decades, potentially raising global sea levels by more than 0.4 inches.

Once glacier passes the trench, it will not likely regain stability or enter a positive-growth phase.

"Whatever it will do, we are already engaged in a big change," study co-author Gael Durand says. "We have passed the tipping point."

Pope Francis calls for your 'prayer and action'...

---


'Help give every student and teacher Free resources for a world-class moral Catholic education'


Copyright 2017 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for MARCH 2017
Support for Persecuted Christians.
That persecuted Christians may be supported by the prayers and material help of the whole Church.


Comments


More Green

Scientists discover a way to turn CO2 into methanol, could THIS be the key to reversing global warming? Watch

Image of There may be a way to convert factory emissions to methanol, which is a valuable industrial product.

Carbon dioxide has a bad reputation. It is criticized as the gas responsible for global warming. And while the global warming issue is more ... continue reading


The polar caps are melting, but there's a greater danger we need to talk about Watch

Image of Will the cure worse than the disease? The polar caps melt, then grow back. But there's a greater danger than this lurking among us --our response to the problem.

Sea ice has reached its lowest levels in recent, recorded history according to NASA. Arctic sea ice reached a maximum that is well below ... continue reading


Scientific discovery could rewrite evolutionary textbooks - should we trust science? Watch

Image of Red algae is still common, and can sometimes stain water the color of blood.

Scientists think they will have to rewrite the evolutionary history of the planet after discovering evidence of the first plants. Their ... continue reading


Study: Natural factors ignored in climate models Watch

Image of A new study suggests scientists are underestimating the contribution of nature to their climate change models.

For decades, scientists have debated what is more responsible for global warming, human activity or nature? The answer to this question is ... continue reading


When will the big one hit? Major quake to strike California sooner rather than later Watch

Image of The city of Bakersfield is the closest major population center to the section of the San Andreas fault where the 'Big One' is expected.

There's bad news for Californians following a seismic study that revealed a section of the San Andreas fault is due for a major movement. ... continue reading


Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2017 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2017 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.