Huge Antarctic Ice Shelf is Now Closer to Collapse, Experts Warn Us

Pine Island Glacier is ripping apart faster than we expected, study shows.
Pine Island Glacier is ripping apart faster than we expected, study shows.

As Earth is currently battling climate change, global warming, and pollution, it seems we’re continuously living the worst-case scenario. And new reports and research don’t help much because they keep hinting at a bleak future.

A recent report, for example, tries to raise awareness of one of the key Antarctic ice shelf’s current situation. Researchers found that the Pine Island Glacier on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is more vulnerable to rapid melting than previously believed. And climate change is to blame.

Here is what you need to know.

Climate Change Shapes Antarctica’s Future: What to Expect

A team of scientists from the University of Washington and British Antarctic Survey joined forces and came up with new details about one of the largest ice shelves in Antarctica. By the looks of the new report, things are more complicated than previously thought.

Study insights

The scientists combined a computer model of ice movement with advanced satellite data to find what’s triggering the speed up.

Apparently, the Pine Island Glacier is retreating due to calving, which is extremely unexpected. Another reason for the phenomenon is the breaking off of large icebergs right at the shelf’s edge. What could this mean?

The team explains that the current situation comes up with a higher level of risk. What seemed like just an ice shelf loss in the past (100 years or more), now it has been pushed up to as short as the next few decades.

“What our study is showing us that the shelf [is] maybe breaking up in response to the earlier-melt-induced speed up, so perhaps we have to worry about loss of the shelf perhaps sooner (this decade possibly) rather than later,” explains Ian Joughin, the lead author of the study.

What’s coming up next

The team is currently anxiously waiting to find out what the glacier and its ice shelf will do. That could help figure out the future of some coastal communities worldwide.

Elizabeth G. Cole
Elizabeth used to be an English teacher, but she left her old job so she could raise her children and get more involved with saving the environment. She is passionate about the Planet and loves to cover this topic, but also enjoys to write about family and children activities.