Pine Island Glacier melting past 'the point of no return'  

Posted by Big Gav in

The Independent has a report on the shrinking of Antarctica's Pine Island glacier - Pine Island Glacier melting past 'the point of no return'.

Antarctica’s Pine Island Glacier could now be in a state of irreversible retreat, making it likely to become an even more significant contributor to the global sea level rise during the next two decades, scientists have warned. The research, published in Nature Climate Change, found that in recent years, the grounding line, which separates the grounded ice sheet from the floating ice shelf, has retreated by tens of kilometres.

An international team of scientists from the CSC-IT Center for Science in Finland, the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Universities of Exeter and Bristol combined field observations and computer models to predict how the ice will change over the next few years. Their research concluded the recent Pine Island Glacier thinning has probably “reached a point of no return”, according to the British Antarctic Survey (BAS). This glacier is currently responsible for contributing 25 per cent of the total ice loss from West Antarctica, which the BAS say is likely to increase over the next 20 years.

Dr Hilmar Gudmundsson from the BAS said: "At the Pine Island Glacier we have seen that not only is more ice flowing from the glacier into the ocean, but it's also flowing faster across the grounding line - the boundary between the grounded ice and the floating ice. We also can see this boundary is migrating further inland. “The Pine Island Glacier shows the biggest changes in this area at the moment, but if it is unstable it may have implications for the entire West Antarctic Ice Sheet.

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