West Antarctic Ice Shelf Breaking Up from The Inside Out
As time passes, the climate situation all over the globe is worsening. The polar regions, being more sensitive to climate change are already showing signs of decay. An important glacier in the Antarctica is breaking inside out, showing that the ocean is weakening ice around the edges of the continent. The Pine Island Glacier, located in the West Antarctica is one of the two primary glaciers that will undergo major retreat due to climate change. Once the glacier breaks off, the interior ice shelf will come in contact with ocean waters. On coming in contact with ever warming ocean waters, the ice shelves will melt causing coastline flooding all across the planet.
The iceberg is around 225 square miles in area. It broke off from the glacier in 2015. However, until recently, the anomaly was not detected. Ohio State University researchers were testing some new image-processing software and they noticed something strange about the images.
A Rising Rift
The found the evidence of a rift that formed at the very base of the ice shelf. It was formed back in 2015, nearly 20 miles inland. This rift propagated upwards, breaking off the West Antarctic glacier sometime by the end of July to early August. The entire event took place in just 12 days.
This is the first time researchers have witnessed such deep subsurface rift opening up Antarctic ice. Similar break ups were seen in the Greenland Ice Sheet, where ocean waters have seeped inland along bedrocks and have melted ice from the underneath. The satellite images provide strong evidence that what happened in West Antarctica is similar to that of Greenland Ice Sheet.
Studies have shown that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is particularly unstable and would collapse in about 100 years. This would lead to about 10 feet rise of sea water, submerging major US coastal cities. You can see the changes on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet in the video below.