More WAIS (W. Antarctica) instability?

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ArcticIn summary, a recent study has found that the melting of a glacier in Greenland may be caused by warm ocean currents rather than warming air temperatures. The lack of sea ice protection and the presence of a deep ocean current may be contributing to the glacier's rapid flow. This phenomenon is similar to past events observed in both the Antarctic and Arctic regions, known as Heinrich events.
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You wouldn't believe this:

The reason does not seem to be warming in the surrounding air.

One possible culprit could be a deep ocean current that is channelled onto the continental shelf close to the mouth of the glacier. There is not much sea ice to protect it from the warm water, which seems to be undercutting the ice and lubricating its flow.

We may be witnessing the beginning of a Heinrich event, generally not associated with warming. are known from Antarctica as well
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The findings presented in the article regarding the potential for increased instability in the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) are concerning and warrant further investigation. While it is not yet clear if the recent thinning and melting of the ice sheet is a result of human-caused climate change, the potential consequences of further destabilization are significant.

As a scientist, it is important to continue monitoring and studying the WAIS to better understand the processes and factors contributing to its instability. This will help us make more accurate predictions about future changes and their potential impacts on global sea levels.

In addition, it is crucial to address the root causes of climate change and reduce our carbon footprint in order to mitigate the potential for further destabilization of the WAIS and other vulnerable ice sheets. This requires a collaborative effort from governments, industries, and individuals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and implement sustainable practices.

Overall, the findings presented in the article highlight the urgent need for action to address climate change and its potential impacts on our planet's ice sheets. As scientists, we have a responsibility to continue studying and communicating the potential consequences of inaction in order to inform decision-making and promote a sustainable future for our planet.

1. What is the WAIS (W. Antarctica) instability?

The WAIS (West Antarctica Ice Sheet) instability refers to the potential for the West Antarctic Ice Sheet to collapse and contribute significantly to global sea level rise. This instability is due to the unique geography and dynamics of the ice sheet, making it vulnerable to melting and retreat.

2. What factors contribute to WAIS instability?

Several factors contribute to WAIS instability, including ocean temperatures, ice shelf thinning, and the underlying bedrock topography. Warmer ocean temperatures can melt the ice from below, while thinning of ice shelves can destabilize the ice sheet. The bedrock topography also plays a role, as some areas of the ice sheet rest on bedrock below sea level, making them more susceptible to melting.

3. How would a collapse of WAIS impact global sea levels?

If the entire WAIS were to collapse, it could contribute up to 3.3 meters (11 feet) of sea level rise globally. However, it is more likely that the collapse would occur gradually over time, resulting in an increase in sea levels by 0.3 to 1.2 meters (1 to 4 feet) by the end of this century.

4. Is the WAIS instability already happening?

There is evidence that the WAIS instability is already happening, with accelerated melting and retreat of ice in certain regions. However, the extent and timeline of this instability is still uncertain and requires further research.

5. What can be done to prevent WAIS instability?

The most effective way to prevent WAIS instability is to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and slow down the warming of the planet. This would help to slow down the melting of the ice sheet and give it more time to adapt. Additionally, continued monitoring and research on the ice sheet is crucial in understanding and potentially mitigating the instability.

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