Antarctic Pine Island Glacier’s tipping point confirmed by researchers

Researchers from Northumbria University have confirmed that Pine Island Glacier in West Antarctica could cross an irreversible tipping point and eventually lead to the collapse of the entire West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Such a collapse could raise the sea levels by over three meters.  

Pine Island Glacier in Antarctica is a large ice stream about two-thirds the size of the UK. This glacier is of particular concern as it is the fastest melting glacier and responsible for about 25% of Antarctica’s ice loss. The area it drains represents 10% of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. 

At current levels, Pine Island Glacier, together with the Thwaites glacier, contributes to about 10% of the rise in global sea levels. 

While scientists have argued about such a tipping point for some time, this is the first time researchers from Northumbria’s glaciology research group, using a state-of-the-art ice flow model, have developed methods to identify tipping points within the ice sheets. This research led by Professor Hilmar Gudmundsson investigates if the prevailing climate change drives the Antarctic Ice Sheet towards a tipping point. The findings are published in the journal, The Cryosphere. 

Dr. Sebastian Rosier at Pine Island Glacier in 2015. Image: Dr. Sebastian Rosier

According to the study, the Pine Island Glacier has at least three distinct tipping points. The third and final event that will lead to the irreversible retreat of the glacier will be caused by an increase in ocean temperature by 1.2C. Mixing of warm Circumpolar Deep Water (CDW) with the cold, shallow waters and changing wind patterns in the Amundsen Sea could increase the temperature to these levels where the tipping point becomes inevitable.  

According to Dr. Sebastian Rosier, “The possibility of Pine Island Glacier entering an unstable retreat has been raised before, but this is the first time that this possibility is rigorously established and quantified.” Dr. Rosier is a Vice-Chancellor’s Research Fellow in Northumbria’s Department of Geography and Environmental Sciences and the lead author of this study. 

Dr. Rosier added that this study is a major step towards understanding the dynamics of the Antarctic ice sheets, and now they are finally able to provide answers to this key question.

Do you want run to publish on Apple News, Google News, and more? Join our writing community, improve your writing skills, and be read by hundreds of thousands around the world!

Source: Phys.org

+ Has new leadership in the US brought a new zeal for Iran’s nuclear deal?
+ Amazon wins push against unionization

Related Stories

Global warming could release more toxic mercury into our oceans

A new study published in Nature Geoscience shows higher concentrations of toxic mercury in the rivers and Fjords connected...

Antarctic ice to melt 20 years sooner than expected, a new study finds

Climate change is slowly rising global sea levels ever since the Industrial Revolution. It is no secret that soon...

Featured Stories

Will Telosa be the “City of the Future” by 2030?

Shenzhen, China was a sleepy fishing village in 1979. A mere forty years later, it is one of the...

Low-cost lead adsorbing water filter designed by Indian students

Two students from India have designed a low-cost lead water filter that can be made with locally sourced materials....

Make it Rain! Dubai uses drones to conjure rain from the skies

You can order food, hail a driver, and even find a spouse with the click of a button; but...

Physicists have created the world’s thinnest magnet. Just one atom thick!

Can you guess the size of the thinnest magnet? It is just one atom thick. Scientists from the University of...

Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak reverse decision to avoid self-isolation following ping by NHS contact tracing

Following the Health Secretary's diagnosis with COVID-19, the Prime Minister and Chancellor were notified by NHS Test and Trace...

India is one of the largest producers of COVID vaccine and yet faces major internal shortages

The worsening situation in India finally gained some stabilization around September 2020. Usually, when things start getting better, people...