Monday, January 19, 2009

Global Warming About to Claim Another Antarctic Ice Shelf

According to an article in Reuters, scientists have found that the Connecticut-sized Wilkins Ice Shelf is now attached to the Antarctic Penninsula by a strip of ice that is only slightly more than 500 yards at its narrowest point. About 60 years ago the strip measured about 60 miles in width. Glaciologist David Vaughn says that the demise of the ice shelf is imminent. This will be the tenth Antarctic ice shelf lost to global warming that scientists have recorded. If an ice shelf is preventing ice sheets on land from speeding up and sliding into the ocean then the loss of an ice sheet can have serious consequeces as ice sheets enter the ocean and raise sea levels. Because the Wilkins Ice Shelf is not holding back ice sheets this current situation does not raise this concern. If all the ice from Antarctica melted sea level would be raised by nearly 200 feet. That may seem improbable within the next millineum but according to Purdue University climate scientist Matthew Huber in an article on the nzherald website if greenhouse gas emissions are not curtailed the levels of carbon dioxide would be high enough to melt the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets within 100 to 200 years. At the lower end of that range some babies alive today would be expected to witness this total melting of ice in their lifetime.

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