Ice on Antarctic Peninsula Melting at Fastest Rate in 1,000 Years

Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Antarctic ice (photo: NOAA)

A stretch of Antarctica has experienced an unprecedented rate of melting ice over the last 1,000 years, scientists say.


After studying ice cores from the frozen continent’s largest and most prominent peninsula, experts from the Australian National University and the British Antarctic Survey determined that the current level of melting was ten times more than it was 600 years ago.


Ice on the peninsula experiences some melting every summer, unlike most of the continent. But in recent decades the amount of ice that has melted has increased at an alarming rate.


The melting is attributed to rising temperatures across the Antarctic Peninsula that have risen 2.8°C over the past 50 years, making it the most rapidly warming region in the Southern Hemisphere.


The continent’s frozen exterior belies the fact that it is officially considered a desert, due to its low annual rainfall (less than 10 inches). This means far more ice is melting than is being replenished each year.


The findings, which were published in the current issue of Nature GeoScience, are based on a study of an ice core that was taken in 2008 from the peninsula’s northern tip. The core, extracted by drilling deep into the ice sheet, offered the scientists a historic record of environmental conditions.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Melting in Antarctica Is Worst In 1,000 Years (by Steff Gaulter, Al Jazeera)

Sharp Rise in Summer Melt on Antarctic Peninsula (by Alex Peel, Natural Environment Research Council)

Acceleration of Snow Melt in an Antarctic Peninsula Ice Core During the Twentieth Century (by Nerilie J. Abram, Robert Mulvaney, Eric W. Wolff, Jack Triest, Sepp Kipfstuhl, Luke D. Trusel, Françoise Vimeux, Louise Fleet and Carol Arrowsmith; Nature GeoScience) (abstract only)

U.S. Uses Global Warming to Lay Claim to 200,000 Square Miles of Arctic Waters    (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)         

Study Claims Humans Responsible for Half of Arctic Ice Melt (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)    

Iceberg the Size of Luxembourg Could Threaten Marine Life (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)       


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