Something’s Rotten (and Melting) in Antarctica

The photograph above is shocking, but it is real, nonetheless. Glaciologist and head scientist for the National Snow & Ice Data Center, Ted Scambos, has explained to Live Science that the anomalies are “fast flowing and floating ice.” Scambos further explains that ice thins and cracks as it spreads, and that snow falls through these cracks producing the illusion of massive, artificial shapes. Gargantuan blocks of flowing ice start to float, and they spread laterally due to their immense thickness.

More specifically, Scambos says that, “Later, with further flow, the ice begins to stretch out longitudinally, and the surface snow breaks perpendicular to the first troughs.” Another anomalous development in Antarctica is greatly increased rainfall. One paper by the name of “January 2016 extensive summer melt in West Antarctica favored by strong El Nino” can be read in the journal Nature Communications: “normal” Antarctic weather is highly and hotly debated, but there is little doubt that the region’s climate has been warming at unprecedented and alarming rates.

This research provides numerous key insights regarding Antarctic climate change: “Here we report on an episode of extensive and prolonged surface melting observed in the Ross Sea sector of the WAIS in January 2016. A comprehensive cloud and radiation experiment at the WAIS ice divide, downwind of the melt region, provided detailed insight into the physical processes at play during the event. The unusual extent and duration of the melting are linked to strong and sustained advection of warm marine air toward the area, likely favored by the concurrent strong El Niño event. The increase in the number of extreme El Niño events projected for the twenty-first century could expose the WAIS to more frequent major melt events. . . . Passive microwave satellite observations (Fig. 1a) indicate that surface melt occurred during one or more days over a broad sector of West Antarctica (termed Ross sector hereafter) in January 2016, with up to 15 melt days over parts of the eastern Ross Ice Shelf and Siple Coast.”

Nature Communications

Julien Nicolas of Ohio State University Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center reveals some of the inside knowledge he gained while researching; there have only been three to four of these events over the past four decades, and satellite observations indicate that surface ice melt represents over two times the area of California. As more studies are undertaken, it seems more and more likely that major ice shelf collapses will occur. It is probably no longer a matter of if this will happen, but rather a question of how soon this will occur. Please watch the video below to gain a better understanding of how humanity as a whole could be impacted.

Julien Nicolas / Ohio State University

Antarctica should be the coldest region on Earth, and it is currently vital in aiding humankind to prepare for eventual exploration of the frigid planet Mars. This may seem like an aside, but with every degree Celsius in temperature rise Earth experiences, the higher the chances that one day humankind will need to flee a planet which is melting as a result of runaway greenhouse effect. In order to truly grasp the severity of the consequences of human-induced climate change, one must read contemporary studies, keep up with environmental news every day, and contemplate the genuine threat of global flooding.

Then drastically reduce and limit your carbon footprint, and buy an electric vehicle or an all-season bicycle as soon as humanly possible.