Ice Shelves Propping Up Two Significant Antarctic Glaciers Are Falling Apart, Potentially Resulting A Sea Level Increase

Satellite imagery display two of the most important glaciers in the Antarctic undergoing rapid damage at their weakest spots, leading to vital ice shelves breaking up. That could pose a severe threat to global sea-level rise.

The Pine Island and Thwaites glaciers are among the glaciers with the most rapidly changing region rates, already being responsible for approximately 5% of global sea-level rise.

According to scientists, the glaciers are extremely sensitive to climate change.

A recent study posted in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Monday revealed that the glaciers’ foundations are getting worryingly weak. The damage over the past few decades appears to be leading towards future collapses of their ice shelves.

Stef Lhermite, a satellite expert from the Delft University, led the research. He used satellite data to analyze the evolution of the damaged areas from 1997 to 2019.

The images displayed highly crevassed regions and immense open fractures in the glaciers.

“We knew they were sleeping giants, and these were the ones losing a lot of miles (of ice), but how far and how much remains a large uncertainty,” Lhermitte stated.

“These ice shelves are in the early phase of disintegration, they’re starting to tear apart,” he added.

Twitter Posts

Lhermitte published some of his findings on Twitter. Take a look at them:

Although I recommend to check, perhaps also here a short thread on our results [1/n].

More background and videos on the damage processes and why they matter on Thx also to @Sainan_Sun @bert_polar @NASA_ICE @EtienneBerthie2 @FrankPattyn @JanWuite @NASA_ICE @CopernicusEU

New paper ‘Damage accelerates ice shelf instability and mass loss in Amundsen Sea Embayment’ 🇦🇶 just came out in @PNASNews. We use 🛰️ to show structural weakening of the Pine Island and Thwaites ice shelves and its impact on the mass loss of these glaciers

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