Thursday, 16 December 2010 15:44

Antarctic Ice Melts Further as Warmer Water Rises

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For more than a century, much of Earth's warming was buried deep in oceans and a new study reveals it's starting to surface in Antarctica. Global sea temperatures are on the rise, but the largest increase has been measured in the frigid waters off the Western Antarctic Peninsula, according to a report presented at a recent meeting of the American Geophysical Union by physical oceanographer Doug Martinson. The warm water is raising air temperatures, melting glaciers and already impacting penguin colonies. Scientists have estimated that more than 90% of the warming from human-generated greenhouse gases would end up in the oceans. Through the process of upwelling, that heat is now reaching the surface and causing 87% of alpine glaciers in that region to retreat, taking with it the Adele penguins' feeding platform – not to mention threatening their ice-dwelling diet of Antarctic krill and silverfish. Scientists are particularly concerned about the Pine Island and Thwaites glaciers, located below the Antarctic Peninsula, which are thinning at a rate of 160 feet a year as warm waters eat away at their underside. "There's the potential that we're locked into long term sea level rise for a long time," Martinson told Discovery News. This finding makes finding solutions to reduce future greenhouse gas emissions even more important as we begin to feel the toll of past emissions.  Find out what you can do to mitigate further warming at Carbonfund.org.
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