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“It’s kind of a blowtorch on the underside of the ice shelf,” said Robert A. Bindschadler, a retired NASA climate scientist. (ANTARCTICA - Tags: SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY ENVIRONMENT) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. Human civilization did not yet exist, but early societies of hunters and gatherers lived along most of the world’s shorelines, and they would have watched the inundation claim their lands. try { window.adSetOthAT && window.adSetOthAT('kvblogname=news;kvcategory=news;kvpub=aol;kvpubmarket=us;kvpubsection=news;kvsubj=980522:981523:981525:982665:979305:979926:981973:982661;kvent=3531748:3563351:4185720:3756801;kvcmsid=bsd:23032144;kveditags=iceberg;kventryid=23032144;kvblogger=carrie-healey;'); Many experts think warmer air temperatures could start to weaken the ice of West Antarctica from above, even as warmer ocean water attacks it from below. viewability: true, Again?? There is no telling whether the Ross Ice shelf is prone to a break-off but Bertler says it has been found to be "very sensitive in the past and capable of rapid change. c.w = width; read. We estimate a small dynamic loss for the Larsen C glaciers (1 Gt/y) and negligible loss for the Larsen D–G glaciers (basin I″-J) (Dataset S1 and Fig. var myRapidInstance = new YAHOO.i13n.Rapid(rapidConfig); ", More from AOL.com: AOL = {}; // Make sure the atwUAC object exists before putting your function on it It is several hundred metres thick. about 6,000 sq km ? Kirsty J. Tinto steps out of an LC-130 Hercules on the Ross Ice Shelf. Figure1. Wed., Nov. 15, 2017 timer 4 min. ... “The collapse … var a = document.getElementById("state-indicator"); REUTERS/Alister Doyle, The Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica is seen in this undated NASA image. catch (e) {} Courtesy John Sonntag/NASA/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. Right now, the shelf works like a giant bottle-stopper that slows down ice trying to flow from the land into the sea. Miles of ice stretch to the horizon, growing thicker as you move toward the South Pole. For instance, scientists need to know a lot more about the ground beneath the glaciers there. Alarmed by the warning signs that parts of the West Antarctic ice sheet are becoming unstable, American and British scientific agencies are joining forces to get better measurements in the main trouble spots. Only at its edge does the ice shelf become something more dramatic: a spectacular sheer cliff rising 100 feet above the ocean and extending 900 feet below the surface. But we look at the big ice shelves – the Ronne/Filchner Ice Shelf next to South America and the Ross Ice Shelf – the largest ice shelf on the planet – in the NZ region of Antarctica. The Amundsen Sea region is one of the remotest parts of the continent, far from American and British research bases. Fracture at the front of Ross ice shelf, the largest in Antarctica. if (a.currentStyle) { Compared with other parts of Antarctica, the shelf seems … b = parseInt(window.getComputedStyle(a).getPropertyValue("z-index"), 10) The effort could cost more than $25 million and might not produce clearer answers about the fate of the ice until the early 2020s. test_id: "", !function (e, f, u) { A different undersea topography — high ridges of rock, for example — may keep warmer water out, stabilizing the ice sheet, possibly for hundreds of years. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images), Are you a homeowner? EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NASA's Operation IceBridge has been studying how polar ice has evolved over the past eight years and is currently flying a set of 12-hour research flights over West Antarctica at the start of the melt season. c.des = des; // always true? c.sps = sizeArray; That is double the maximum increase that an international climate panel projected only four years ago. From that cliff edge, icebergs occasionally calve away, completing a thousand-year journey of the ice from land to sea. The scale of the task is enormous.This flat expanse of white is the Ross Ice Shelf, a floating chunk of ice nearly as large as Texas. c.div = divId; A platform of ice nearly four times the size of the UK is at risk of collapse. Coutesy NASA/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. URGENT: These refi rates won't last forever. Photographs by Jonathan Corum. These areas do not hold much SLE (Table 1). And because much of West Antarctica’s ice sits below sea level, it is especially vulnerable to ocean heat. Abstract. But we're not necessarily totally in the clear. As the hours-long flights wore on, the scientists took turns napping, knitting or eating cold pizza, but at all times, somebody kept close watch on the instruments. ... we needed to take measurements directly from the ocean under hundreds of metres of ice. 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