Antarctic ice melting faster than expected
Antarctic ice melting faster than expected Gentoo penguins stand on rocks near the Chilean station Bernardo O'Higgins, Antarctica. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
Antarctic ice melting faster than expected
Lexile: 900L
Lexile

Assign to Google Classroom

Warmer air, less frigid water and gravity may combine to make parts of Antarctica's western ice sheet melt far faster than scientists had thought. Sea levels could rise much more than expected. It all could happen by the end of the century. This is according to a study.
 
The results of new physics-based computer simulations have been released.  They forecast dramatic increases in melting. It could occur in the vulnerable western edge of Antarctica. The huge land mass at the southern end of the Earth is a continent. In a worst-case scenario, that could raise sea level in 2100 by 18 to 34 inches. That is much more than an international panel of climate scientists predicted. They made that prediction just three years ago.
 
Countries of the world pledged to control heat-trapping gases at the moderate levels in Paris last year. It still would mean three to 12 inches higher seas than have been forecast. This is according to a study. It was published March 30 in the journal Nature.
 
By the year 2500, in the worst-case scenario, the simulations predict seas 42 feet higher. The increase would come purely from Antarctic melt.
 
"You're remapping the way the planet looks from space with those numbers," said study lead author Robert DeConto. He is a climate scientist. He teaches at the University of Massachusetts.
 
Melting in Antarctica is one of the biggest wild cards. Scientists are trying to assess the effects of man-made climate change. Scientists were caught by surprise when the western portion of the continent started showing signs of rapid ice loss. It has been found in the last 10 years or so.
 
The United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has not forecast much sea level rise from Antarctica. Its last report predicted just seven inches by 2100. For this century, the panel saw water expanding from heat, glacier melt and Greenland ice sheet loss as the bigger factors.
 
Instead of 7 inches, DeConto's simulations forecast sea level rise from Antarctica's melt alone as 2 to 3 feet. That is the worst-case scenario. The estimate is 10 to 19 inches if greenhouse gas emissions are moderately controlled. And if the world cracks down more dramatically on heat-trapping gases, Antarctica would essentially not add anything to sea level rise. This is according to the study.
 
Those figures are just worldwide averages. In many places on the East Coast, like Boston, it could be 25 percent more. That's because of geological conditions, DeConto said.
 
"North America has a lot to fear from ice loss from West Antarctica."  That is where it all begins, DeConto said.
 
Other studies have looked at the effect of warming from water below ice sheets and the air that melts from above. But DeConto includes the effect of pooling water and giant ice cliffs. Those ice cliffs can be dozens and even hundreds of feet high. They can collapse from the sheer weight of ice. That hastens glacier and ice sheet retreat, DeConto said.
 
Ted Scambos at the University of Colorado, who wasn't part of the new study, said it was plausible. He said the study used "a few simple yet under-appreciated factors regarding ice retreat."
 
Carnegie Institute climate scientist Chris Field said the study drives home the difference the world can make by controlling its greenhouse gas emissions. It's the difference between rising seas that can be managed and conditions that are "dangerously risky," he said.

Source URL: https://www.tweentribune.com/article/tween56/antarctic-ice-melting-faster-expected/

Filed Under:  
Assigned 373 times
CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why is Antarctica “one of the biggest wildcards?”
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (134)
  • virginiam-2-bar
    4/13/2016 - 05:25 p.m.

    Antartica is one of the biggest wild cards because it is very unpredictable. The size of the continent is always changing because the ice which makes up most of the continent is melting. Also it is changing all the other continents because it is making the water levels in the ocean rise causing beaches and small beach towns to flood. This is why Antartica is considered a wild card.

    I found this artical intresting because I never really thought that the melting of Antartica was that important, however after reading this article I relized that it is affect countries.

  • dashiellg-3-bar
    4/13/2016 - 05:40 p.m.

    Antartica is one of the biggest wildcards because the temperature on the massive continent is constantly changing and is very hard for scientists to predict what will happen. According to climate scientist Robert DeCanto the worst case scenario would be that the sea level would rise 2-3 feet. He also explained that if we control green house gases the sea level would only rise to 10-19 inches. That is a huge difference, knowing that if it rose 2-3 feet North America could be in big trouble for years to come. I found this article interesting because I did not know that global warming was only coming from Antartica. I thought there was climate everywhere.

  • katherinec-3-bar
    4/13/2016 - 05:42 p.m.

    Antarctica is "one of the biggest wildcards" because the continent is so unpredictable, due to weather changes. I found this on paragraph 6 when the article stated, "Melting in Antarctica is one of the biggest wild cards. Scientists are trying to assess the effects of man-made climate change. Scientists were caught by surprise when the western portion of the continent started showing signs of rapid ice loss"
    I hope that this rapid ice loss slows down, because I don't want any animals living there to lose their home.

  • colek-1-bar
    4/13/2016 - 06:14 p.m.

    Antarctica is one of the biggest wildcards because its climate change can be so unpredictable for scientists trying to study it. Scientists fear that if humans keep going down this polluted path of global warming, "Sea levels could rise much more than expected." (paragraph 1). If a part of Antarctica melts, the sea level would rise dramatically around the world. But, if we stop global warming before it gets too severe, Antarctica would not melt and the sea levels would not rise. Antarctica is the one major factor that can truly affect the sea levels of our ocean. That is why Antarctica is one of the biggest wildcards in the world. I thought this article was interesting and found that the worst-case scenario in 2500 would be a rise of 42 feet in sea level very surprising.

  • summerc-1-bar
    4/13/2016 - 07:51 p.m.

    Antarctica is "one of the biggest wildcards" because the article says that there are ice cliffs as tall and mighty as 10 feet! They can fall at almost any moment from the sheer weight of the ice itself. The ice might continue to melt at the pace it's going at as of now.
    We should do something about global warming. If it continues, then the sea levels will rise. I think it's interesting how all this can happen within a few years, including the studies and research.

  • Eric0221-YYCA
    4/13/2016 - 10:41 p.m.

    The scientists might have been able to find out that everything in Antarctica would all be melted away by the end of the century which North America is mostly feared that everything in North America would be flooded. The scientists might have been able to research about the ice in Antarctica which would all be melted which the penguins wouldn't have somewhere to rest on when they are swimming. The people might have been feared at the coastal cities that they are living in would soon be all flooded with sea water which they would be moving to other places from the ocean. People might have been able to see that they have time until all of the ice is melted away from Antarctica which all of the coastal cities would be flooded with ocean water.
    Critical Thinking Question: Why is Antarctica "one of the biggest wildcards?
    Answer: I know that Antarctica is one of the biggest wildcards because it is known to be getting all of its ice to all be melted.

  • 22cmbeat-
    4/14/2016 - 09:28 a.m.

    That is gonna be bad i wonder how the sea level is gonna look like. All the animals are gonna die like the penguins and polar bears.

  • 22mlcorn-
    4/14/2016 - 09:28 a.m.

    I think that it is one of the world biggest wildcards because if they do melt then our whole world could change all of a sudden, but we would also have more water to spread around the world.

  • 22vlhall-
    4/14/2016 - 09:32 a.m.

    I find that scary mostly because if all the ice melts then that could mean more flooding. That's also bad because of all the animals that live up their are used to the colder temperature and need the colder temperature to live. So if this does happen we cold end up losing a lot of our animals.

  • 22bwhall-
    4/14/2016 - 09:32 a.m.

    This is bad, indeed. There is probably a way to stop it, but I don't have any ideas.

Take the Quiz Leave a comment
ADVERTISEMENT