New research shows: Glaciers are sliding towards the sea ever faster

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The UN climate panel stated in 2021 that if the global average temperature increases by two to three degrees, the entire West Antarctic ice mass risks melting away in the long term, with major sea level rises as a result. The fastest melting is on the Antarctic Peninsula, which is the part of West Antarctica that points up towards South America.

New observations with the European Space Agency’s radar satellite, Sentinel, during the period 2014 to 2021 now reveal that the glaciers on the peninsula are also sliding increasingly faster towards the sea in the summer. This is shown by British and Dutch researchers in a study i Nature Geoscience.

– When the temperature rises above zero degrees, the surface of the glacier melts. A complex system of small channels in the ice leads the water down to the bottom of the glacier causing it to slide out to sea, says Ian Brown.

Seven centimeters sea level rise

These processes lead to more than 100 large glaciers on the Antarctic Peninsula melting faster than previously expected. If all the ice on the entire Antarctic Peninsula were to melt, it could cause a global sea level rise of seven centimeters. And then the contribution of splashed water from the rest of West Antarctica is not included.

– Seven centimeters is quite a lot. It will be especially noticeable in connection with storms. Communities must prepare for rising sea levels to protect infrastructure and homes.