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Posted Tue Nov 10 2009: from RealClimate:
Is Pine Island Glacier the Weak Underbelly of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet?
... the 1978 publication by the late John Mercer, Ohio State U., who argued that a major deglaciation of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) may be in progress within 50 years. This conclusion was based on the fact that the WAIS margin was ringed with stabilizing ice shelves, and that much of the ice sheet is grounded below sea level. The loss of ice shelves -- Mercer proposed -- would allow the ice sheet to thin, grounding lines to retreat and the ice sheet to disintegrate via calving. This is a much faster means of losing mass than melting in place. Mercer further commented that the loss of ice shelves on the Antarctic Peninsula, as has since been observed, would be an indicator that this process of ice sheet loss due to global warming was underway.... The increase from 2006 to 2007 was 6.4 percent at 55 km from the terminus and 4.1 percent at 171 km inland.... A separate data set, radar based was used by Rignot (2008) to identify a 42 percent acceleration of PIG between 1996 and 2007 accompanied by most of its ice plain becoming ungrounded.... Scott and others (2009) pointed out that the greater thinning toward the grounding line and terminus increased the surface slope and the gravitational driving stress, further promoting acceleration. Then Wingham and others (2009) reported that the 5400 km2 central trunk of the glacier had experienced a quadrupling in the average rate of volume loss quadrupled from 2.6 km3 a year in 1995 to 10.1 km3 a year in 2006.
[Read more stories about: holyshit, feedback loop, arctic meltdown, melting glaciers]

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'Doc Jim says:
It's all going to melt anyway -- let's pipe this "frozen aquifer" to Australia!

More stories:
  • From the ApocaDesk
  • Antarctica Glacier Retreat Creates New Carbon Dioxide Store; Has Beneficial Impact On Climate Change
  • (Is Pine Island Glacier the Weak Underbelly of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet?)
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