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East Antarctic Ice Sheet May No Longer As Stable As It Seems, New Study Warns

The East Antarctic Ice Sheet is not as stable as previously thought it was. A new study has indicated that the ice sheet has a long history of expanding and shrinking due to climate change.

Antonio Manaytay – Fourth Estate Contributor

Austin, TX, United States (4E) – A brand new research has warned that the East Antarctic Ice Sheet could not be as steady as beforehand thought it was. The ice sheet within the area with its lengthy historical past of increasing and shrinking attributable to local weather change has the potential to lift the worldwide sea stage from three to five meters. In a research printed on December 14 within the journal Nature, the researchers mentioned the area is prone to be prone to local weather change as a result of they circulate from the Aurora Basin, East Antarctica’s area that lies principally beneath sea stage. The research led by The University of Texas Austin and the University of South Florida had collected geophysical and geological knowledge from the primary oceanographic survey of East Antarctica’s Sabrina Coast. It was came upon that the glaciers within the Aurora Basin have been steady just for the previous couple of million years, research co-lead creator Sean Gulick, a analysis professor on the University of Texas Institute for Geophysics (UTIG) and the Department of Geological Sciences, mentioned. “It turns out that for much of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet’s history it was not the commonly perceived large stable ice sheet with only minor changes in size over millions of years,” he mentioned. Recent knowledge collected from the area, Gulick mentioned, had indicated that the ice sheet is dynamic because it “grew and shrank significantly between glacial and interglacial periods.” “There were also often long intervals of open water along the Sabrina Coast with limited glacial influence,” he added. The researchers have been in a position to decide how the ice sheet within the area had grown and shrunk for the previous 50 million years with the assistance of marine seismic expertise. Samples of mud taken from 1 to 2 meters beneath the seafloor helped to find out the age of the samples. The knowledge revealed that the ice sheet had superior from the Aurora Basin and shrank once more 11 occasions the final 20 million years. The younger ice sheet, in accordance with researchers, was wetter than it’s in the present day with a community of channels beneath the place the melted ice flows. “We shouldn’t view this as one ice sheet that suddenly grew to its present size, but rather one that was a transient ice sheet that expanded every couple million years or so,” Gulick mentioned. The East Antarctic Ice Sheet had stabilized about six million years in the past however the growing world air temperatures attributable to local weather change could trigger the melting of the glaciers within the area. At current, the glaciers within the Sabrina Coast and that of the Aurora Basin are thinning because of the warming of ocean waters close by. Study co-lead creator Amelia Shevenell mentioned the melting of Toten Glacier, East Antarctica’s largest glacier as an early warning signal of the approaching instability of ice sheet within the area. Shevenell is an affiliate professor within the University of South Florida’s College of Marine Science. “A lot of what we are seeing right now in the coastal regions is that warming ocean waters are melting Antarctica’s glaciers and ice shelves, but this process may just be the beginning,” she mentioned. “Once you have that combination of ocean heat and atmospheric heat – which are related – that’s when the ice sheet could really experience dramatic ice mass loss,” Shevenell mentioned.

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