The climate bats last — once againUSGS map shows how ice fronts have retreated in the southern Antarctic Peninsula from 1947 to 2009.
Once again, the Earth’s climate seems to be ignoring the claims of climate skeptics that globe isn’t warming. A report published today by the U.S. Geological Survey details the widespread extent of shrinking ice shelves in the southern part of the Antarctic Peninsula due to climate change.
“This could result in glacier retreat and sea-level rise if warming continues, threatening coastal communities and low-lying islands worldwide,” according to the USGS.
There are five major ice shelves in this region, and the ice lost since 1998 from just one — the Wilkins Ice Shelf — totals more than 4,000 square kilometers, according to the USGS. That’s an area larger than Rhode Island.
An ice shelf floats, so as it disappears it does not cause a rise in sea level. But it serves something like a cork in a bottle, holding back glaciers and ice streams flowing down from Antarctic ice sheets. When an ice shelf disappears, the flow of this ice into the sea can accelerate — and that contributes to sea level rise.