Giant Antarctic ice sheet hangs by an icy threadJanuary 31st, 2009 - 12:51 pm ICT by ANI
Wellington, Jan 31 (ANI): The Wilkins Ice Shelf, a giant Antarctic ice sheet, is literally hanging by an icy thread, and can break-off anytime.
According to a report in stuff.co.nz, if it goes, the Wilkins Ice Shelf, which is the size of Jamaica, would become the 10th Antarctic ice shelf to recede or vanish into the sea since 1950.
Scientists think the loss of Antarctic ice shelves such as Wilkins will let inland glaciers slide to the ocean faster, pumping vast quantities of ice into the sea and contributing to sea-level rises.
Sea-level rises are also caused by thermal expansion of the oceans as they become warmer.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has predicted a sea-level rise of up to 59 centimeters by the end of the century.
But, it did not include the possible effects of melting ice sheets and said it could not yet predict the full extent of a future sea-level rise.
Councils are already preparing for rising sea levels and resulting coastal erosion, according to Iain Dawe, regional council hazards analyst, Greater Wellington, New Zealand.
Options include hazard setback zones, a retreat from the coast, and even building homes on piles so they can be easily moved back from the sea.
Dawe said that planners are plagued by uncertainty over how much seas may rise. The Kapiti Coast faces real challenges, while Wellingtons south coast is less at risk.
On big gravel beaches, the gravel will just move further up the shore and absorb the impact, he said.
Rising sea levels will increase the chance of flooding from storm surge and could lead to increased premiums for coastal dwellers, according to Insurance Council insurance manager John Lucas.
Rising sea levels also threaten low-lying islands in the Pacific and Indian oceans.
Victoria University climate change professor Martin Manning, who was on the climate panel, said that new studies talk of sea-level rises of between 1.6 meters and 2 meters by 2100.
The bottom line is that things are happening quite quickly for example, the fact that we have only seen rapid change in the ice sheets since 2003, he said.
According to Waikato University oceanographer Willem de Lange, There has long been a pattern of ice shelves building up and collapsing. All it shows is that the world has got warmer since the last ice age. (ANI)
- Ice Shelves on Antarctic Peninsula in danger - Feb 23, 2010
- Ice shelves attached to Antarctica are disappearing - Feb 23, 2010
- Antarctic ice shelf faces threat from warm waters - May 10, 2012
- Warm ocean currents cause ice loss from Antarctica - Apr 26, 2012
- Vanishing ice shelves in Antarctic Peninsula could result in sea-level rise - Feb 23, 2010
- Global warming curbs won't prevent steep sea rise - Mar 21, 2012
- Sea levels may rise much higher, says fossil study - Jul 16, 2012
- Sea level monitoring 'best way to predict impacts of climate change' - Oct 10, 2010
- Melting glaciers on Arctic islands play major role in rise of sea level - Apr 21, 2011
- Sea levels might rise or fall if warming continues - Sep 12, 2011
- Melting ice in Canadian Arctic bigger player in sea-level rise - Apr 22, 2011
- Evidence from octopus hints at ice sheet collapse - May 10, 2012
- Sea levels 'could rise by more than 1m due to global warming' - Jul 07, 2010
- Scientists estimate sea level rise by studying past carbon dioxide levels - May 02, 2011
- Melting glaciers to contribute 12cm to world sea-level increases by 2100 - Jan 11, 2011
Tags: antarctic ice sheet, antarctic ice shelf, antarctic ice shelves, coastal dwellers, coastal erosion, gravel beaches, indian oceans, insurance council, insurance manager, intergovernmental panel on climate change, intergovernmental panel on climate change ipcc, islands in the pacific, low lying islands, martin manning, professor martin, rising sea levels, sea level rise, university climate, wellington new zealand, wilkins ice shelf