How better to kick off the work week that with the latest climate change news. Will it be good news? Will it be bad? Are you kidding, of course it won't be good and it's not.
That big slab of ice and snow most of us think of when we hear the word "Antarctica" is melting much faster than satellite images led us to believe. That's because it's not melting much at the top but it is melting muchly at the bottom, way, way down where the satellites can't see.
Until recently, the Antarctic was seen as relatively stable. Viewed from above, the extent of land and sea ice in the far south has not changed as dramatically as in the far north.
But the new study found even a small increase in temperature has been enough to cause a loss of five metres every year from the bottom edge of the ice sheet, some of which is more than 2km underwater.
“What’s happening is that Antarctica is being melted away at its base. We can’t see it, because it’s happening below the sea surface,” said Professor Andrew Shepherd, one of the authors of the paper. “The changes mean that very soon the sea-level contribution from Antarctica could outstrip that from Greenland.”
The study measures the Antarctic’s “grounding line” – the bottommost edge of the ice sheet across 16,000km of coastline. This is done by using elevation data from the European Space Agency’s CryoSat-2 and applying Archimedes’s principle of buoyancy, which relates the thickness of floating ice to the height of its surface.So I guess the message is, "Greenland, enjoy that top spot while you can. Your days are numbered. The Big Dog's coming to town."