Antarctica towards critical point and uncontrolled ice melting

A new study has brought new alarming news regarding the state of the Antarctic ice sheet, under stress due to the climate crisis

by Lorenzo Ciotti
Antarctica towards critical point and uncontrolled ice melting
© Mario Tama / Staff Getty Images

A team of scientists from the British Antarctic Survey conducted a new study (published in Nature Geoscience) which brings new alarming news on the melting of the Antarctic ice sheet. According to the study, Antarctica is close to a critical point that if exceeded will cause the ice sheet to melt out of control.

Alex Bradley of BAS and lead author of the study, and the team of researchers who conducted the study, explained: "What happens is you get this kind of uncontrolled feedback. There can be a very sudden change in melting levels. We have discovered that increasing ocean temperatures can lead to exceeding a point of no return, beyond which ocean water infiltrates in an unlimited way under the ice sheet, through an uncontrolled melting process.

Antarctica© Mario Tama / Staff Getty Images

When space between the ocean floor and the overlying ice sheet widens, both the temperature and the speed of water flow in that area increase, further increasing melting. Current projections for Antarctica and Greenland are based on simulations that do not predict melting by intrusion and may therefore represent underestimates. Although our model is a simplification of the myriad of complex processes occurring at the grounding line, our results indicate a greater sensitivity to, and therefore a contribution to, ice sheet melting. higher sea level rise in a warming climate than previously expected."

The researchers found that even a small increase in ocean water temperature can have a significant impact on melting. And as climate change is making the oceans warmer, the process accelerates. The study's authors highlighted how increasingly warm ocean water is seeping beneath the ice sheet between the ocean floor and the overlying ice sheet itself, causing accelerated melting that may lead to a point of no return.