Antarctica

Less Ice or More? What You Need to Know About Antarctica’s Meltdown

Publication: NBC News   Date: December 13, 2014   View Article

In Antarctica, glaciers are sloshing seaward at an ever faster clip, ocean waters are warming, and, perhaps counterintuitively, sea ice is expanding, according to a batch of recent studies that paint a stark picture of climate change unfolding at the far southern reaches of the globe. For people in North America, the distant events raise the specter of higher seas sooner than climate models suggest.

Here are answers to key questions about what’s happening on that cold continent.

Melting ice a ‘sleeping giant’ that will push sea levels higher, scientist says

Publication: NBC News   Date: December 13, 2013   View Article

By the time today’s preschoolers are babysitting their grandkids, global sea levels are likely to be pushing 2 feet higher than they are now and on the way to topping 8 feet above current levels by the year 2200, according to a new study.

The finding stems from geologic evidence that allowed scientists to tease apart a natural background pattern of how fast and how high sea levels rose as ice ages came and went over the past 2 million years.

Today’s pace of sea level rise is about twice as fast compared to historical standards, the team concluded. Going forward, seas will be pushed higher as rising temperatures force the great ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica to disintegrate, glaciers around the world to retreat toward mountaintops, and warming ocean waters to expand, the study notes.

Harsh carbon fee needed to avert disaster, warns top climate scientist

Publication: NBC News   Date: December 3, 2013   View Article

Time is almost out to avoid a climate catastrophe that would leave today’s children and future generations with a world starkly different from the one that nurtured civilization for the past 10,000 years, according to one of the world’s most eminent climate scientists.

Left unchecked, for example, rising global temperatures could soon cross thresholds that melt enough ice in Greenland and Antarctica to drown all of the world’s existing coastal cities in rising seas.

Volcano under Antarctic ice may erupt, accelerate melting

Publication: NBC News   Date: November 17, 2013   View Article

A newly discovered volcano rumbling beneath nearly a mile of ice in Antarctica will almost certainly erupt at some point in the future, according to a new study. Such an event could accelerate the flow of ice into the sea and push up the already rising global sea levels.

When the volcano will blow is unknown, “but it is quite likely” to happen, Amanda Lough, a graduate student in seismology at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., told NBC News.

Message from the mud: East Antarctic meltdown could cause massive sea rise

Publication: NBC News   Date: July 21, 2013   View Article

The last time concentrations of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide were as high as they are today, big chunks of the seemingly stable East Antarctic ice sheet melted and helped raise global sea levels more than 65 feet higher than they are now, a new study suggests.

Scientists have long known that seas were higher during the Pliocene, a geological epoch that ran from 5.3 million to 2.6 million years ago. At the time, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were similar to today’s 400 parts per million (ppm).

“Overall, it was a warmer climate than today, but similar to what we expect to reach by the end of this century,”Carys Cook, a graduate student at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College London and the study’s lead author, told NBC News in an email.

As ice melts, life abounds in Antarctic

Publication: NBC News   Date: July 11, 2013   View Article

The collapse of a giant ice shelf in Antarctica has proven a bounty for the sea creatures eking out an existence in the once-dark waters, according to new research that highlights just how quickly some marine life can adapt to a warming world.

The Larsen A ice shelf broke up and collapsed in 1995, exposing the permanently dark seafloor to the fruits of sunlight, which fuels the growth of plankton and sea-ice algae at the surface. The plankton and algae drift to the seafloor when they die.

“This unprecedented source of food appears to be triggering important changes in the seabed biota,” Claudio Richter, a marine scientist with the Alfred Wegner Institute in Germany, told NBC News in an email.

‘Horrible’ sea level rise of more than 3 feet plausible by 2100, experts say

Publication: NBC News   Date: January 6, 2013   View Article

Melting glaciers in Antarctica and Greenland may push up global sea levels more than 3 feet by the end of this century, according to a scientific poll of experts that brings a degree of clarity to a murky and controversial slice of climate science.

Such a rise in the seas would displace millions of people from low-lying countries such as Bangladesh, swamp atolls in the Pacific Ocean, cause dikes in Holland to fail, and cost coastal mega-cities from New York to Tokyo billions of dollars for construction of sea walls and other infrastructure to combat the tides.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach