Quirks & Quarks

Antarctic Ice Slipping Away

Starting in 2009, massive ice losses from the more southerly end of the Antarctic peninsula began, surprising scientists.

Vast ice losses from area previously thought to be stable

New ice losses are near the base of the Antarctic Peninsula (NASA)
In the last two decades, the shrinking and collapse of ice shelves near the tip of the Antarctic peninsula, driven by warming waters, has raised concerns about instability in the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, and the implications for sea level rise.

Now, new work has shown that recent ice losses closer to the base of the peninsula have been more significant than anyone had suspected.

Professor Jonathan Bamber, a physical geographer in the School of Geographical Sciences at the University of Bristol, and his colleagues, discovered that an area near the southern end of the peninsula suddenly began losing ice in 2009 and, ever since, has shed 60 cubic kilometres of ice every year. 

Related Links

- Paper in Science
University of Bristol release
Ars Technica story by paper's lead author