Ice Loss Likely to Continue in Antarctica, Even if Climate Change Is Brought Under Control

Antarctica Melting Ice

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A brand-new global research study led by Monash University environment researchers has actually exposed that ice loss in Antarctica continued for numerous centuries after it was started and is anticipated to continue.

“Our study implies that ice loss unfolding in Antarctica today is likely to continue unbated for a long time — even if climate change is brought under control,” stated lead research study authors Dr. Richard Jones and Dr. Ross Whitmore, from the Monash University School of Earth, Atmosphere and Environment.

The research study, released on October 21, 2020, in Geology, describes a cosmogenic surface-exposure chronology from Mawson Glacier, nearby to an area of the Ross Sea that went through vibrant marine-based ice sheet retreat following the Last Glacial Maximum.

The information records a minimum of 220 meters of abrupt ice thinning in between 7,500 and 4,500 years back, followed by more progressive thinning till the last millennium.

The research study provides brand-new outcomes of ice sheet thinning in the southwestern Ross Sea. The results program that abrupt ice loss of numerous hundred meters took place at a comparable rate and period throughout several outlet glaciers in the Mid-Holocene, in spite of complicated bed topography.

Both outlet glaciers show that abrupt deglaciation took place throughout a broad area in the Mid-Holocene.

When compared to local sea-level and ocean-temperature modifications, the research study information show that ocean warming more than likely drove grounding-line retreat and ice drawdown, which then sped up as an outcome of marine ice sheet instability.

“We show that part of the Antarctic Ice Sheet experienced rapid ice loss in the recent geological past,” stated Professor Andrew Mackintosh, who heads the Monash School of Earth, Atmosphere and Environment.

“This ice loss occurred at a rate similar to that being observed in rapidly changing parts of Antarctica today, and it was caused by the same processes that are considered to cause current and probable future Antarctic ice mass loss — ocean warming, amplified by internal feedbacks,” he stated.

“The retreat persisted for many centuries after it was initiated, which implies that ice loss unfolding in Antarctica today is likely to continue unabated for a long period.”

Reference: “Regional-scale abrupt Mid-Holocene ice sheet thinning in the western Ross Sea, Antarctica” by R.S. Jones, R.J. Whitmore, A.N. Mackintosh, K.P. Norton, S.R. Eaves, J. Stutz and M. Christl, 21 October 2020, Geology.
DOI: 10.1130/G48347.1