Antarctica's Pine Island Glacier Melting Four Times Faster Than 10 Years Ago

pine island glacier photo

Front edge of the glacier back in 1985, taken on the first expedition. Photo: Wikipedia.

According to new research published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters Antarctica's Pine Island Glacier is melting four times as fast as it was 10 years ago, dropping at a rate of 16 meters per year. The BBC has the details:Glacier Could Melt Entirely in 100 Years
The glacier, located in the West Antarctic Ice Sheet has lowered by as much as 90 meters since 1994.

According to calculations made 15 years ago, Pine Island Glacier was expected to last another 600 years. However, this new research shows that the it may be completely gone just 100 years from now.

Most of the melting now is at the center of the glacier, but the fear according to scientists is that the center melting could break up the glacier and affect the ice sheet further inland.

Just This Glacier Equals One Foot of Sea Level Rise
Professor Andrew Shepherd of Leeds University told the BBC:

...the ice trapped behind it is about 20-30cm of sea level rise and as soon as we destabilize or remove the middle of the glacier we don't know really what's going to happen to the ice behind it.

This is unprecedented in this area of Antarctica. We've know that's it's been out of balance for some time, but nothing in the natural world is lost at an accelerating exponential rate like this glacier.

More on Pine Island Glacier: BBC News
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