In just the past several years, estimates of Antarctica’s melt rate, translating to sea level rise, have gone from nearly zero to becoming more significant and growing. Scientists most recently have found that Western Antarctica is contributing approximately 10% to observed global sea level rise, with one of Antarctica’s largest glaciers being a significant source. In an effort to identify the causes and risks, a team led by the British Antarctic Survey sent an unmanned submarine beneath Western Antarctica’s Pine Island Glacier to measure ice melt in terms of the ocean water’s salinity, temperature and oxygen concentrations.
The submarine unexpectedly found that the glacier was no longer connected to an underwater ridge that had been slowing the flow of ice into the sea. Instead, warm sea water has been entering the cavity created over the ridge and eroding the glacier from below. The Pine Island Glacier is thus one of the continent’s fastest melting and is thinning four times more quickly than it was 10 years ago.
These findings confirmed concerns that this glacier is actually a weak point in the region’s integrity, and that a real collapse of the Western Antarctic Ice Sheet could add five meters to sea level rise.
Our thanks, British Antarctic Survey and scientists, for these factual though alarming observations of West Antarctica. Let us all awaken to the importance of taking urgent steps to address our vulnerable environment and restore the Earth’s balance. Ever concerned for humanity’s welfare, Supreme Master Ching Hai has often spoken of global warming’s threat to our survival while at the same time reminding of how to avoid calamity, as during a November 2009 videoconference in Washington, DC, USA.