Scientists predict extensive ice loss from huge Antarctic glacier

Current rates of climate change could trigger instability in a major Antarctic glacier, ultimately leading to more than 2m of sea-level rise.

Science Daily, Imperial College London, May 18

This is the conclusion of a new study looking at the future of Totten Glacier, a significant glacier in Antarctica. Totten Glacier drains one of the world’s largest areas of ice, on the East Antarctic Ice Sheet (EAIS).

By studying the history of Totten’s advances and retreats, researchers have discovered that if climate change continues unabated, the glacier could cross a critical threshold within the next century, entering an irreversible period of very rapid retreat.

This would cause it to withdraw up to 300 kilometres inland in the following centuries and release vast quantities of water, contributing up to 2.9 metres to global sea-level rise.


“The evidence coming together is painting a picture of East Antarctica being much more vulnerable to a warming environment than we thought,” he said. “This is something we should worry about. Totten Glacier is losing ice now, and the warm ocean water that is causing this loss has the potential to also push the glacier back to an unstable place.”

Via Robert Scribbler: Tottering Totten and the Coming Multi-Meter Sea Level Rise

Nature [Letter]: Repeated large-scale retreat and advance of Totten Glacier indicated by inland bed erosion

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  • Read “Hot Earth Dreams” and despair!
    Granted, it’s a worst-case scenario of 8° C warming making us toast (almost literally). Pesonally, I doubt it will get that bad. I suspect that by the time we hit 4° C, the lifestyle that drives global warming will collapse and at least stop making it worse. And 4° C is highly possible, even likely, considering that we’re quickly closing in on the 2° C threshold, long considered the tipping-point.

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