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The deep past of Antarctic ice shows that it may be more vulnerable to global warming.

Credit: Jim Marschalek

In a study published in a journal NatureAmelia Shevenel, a researcher at the University of South Florida, and her colleagues recorded the evolution of the Antarctic ice sheet about 20 million years ago. This study is supported by the National Science Foundation.


During this period, called the Early Miocene, the earth was warm, Cold climate.. If greenhouse gas emissions continue at current rates, the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide was the same as expected by 2100. During the warm Miocene climate, sea level rose up to 60 meters (197 feet). This is the same as melting all the ice currently in Antarctica.

So far, the contribution of the larger East Antarctic Ice Sheet (EAIS) and the smaller West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) to the sea level of the past world has been uncertain.

This survey was conducted as part of the International Ocean Discovery Program Expedition 374 to the Ross Sea, Antarctica. IODP Expedition 374 has recovered approximately 1.5 km (nearly a mile) of mud. SeabedScientists are analyzing to reconstruct the evolution of the Antarctic ice sheet over the last 20 million years.

This study, led by researcher Jim Marshallek of Imperial College London, shows that the smaller, more climate-sensitive WAIS of today’s Antarctic ice sheet exists and contributes significantly. World sea level 8 million years earlier than previously known.

Studies also show that young WAIS are highly erosive, lowering the elevation of land beneath WAIS below sea level and increasing their vulnerability to climate and ocean changes. This study provides essential data for climate models used to accurately predict future world sea levels as the Earth warms and the Antarctic ice sheets melt.

“Understanding past climatic conditions and Antarctic ice sheet behavior is essential for predicting how fast sea levels will rise in the future,” Shevenel said. “What is happening in Antarctica now and in the past may not seem to be important in our daily lives, but the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is contributing to global sea level rise and the Earth Its contribution is increasing as it warms. Completely, if this part of Antarctica melts, the world’s sea level will rise by about 15 feet, driving millions of people around the world. ”


Deep past studies of Antarctic ice show that it may be more vulnerable to global warming.


For more information:
Marschalek, JW et al. The large West Antarctic Ice Sheet explains the sea level amplitude in the early Neogene. Nature (2021). doi.org/10.1038/s41586-021-04148-0

Quote: The deep ice sheet of Antarctica shows that it may be more vulnerable to warming (February 14, 2022) https://phys.org/news/2022-02-antarctic Obtained from -ice-deep-vulnerable.html on February 14, 2022

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The deep past of Antarctic ice shows that it may be more vulnerable to global warming.

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