Antarctica's Pine Island Glacier enters 'irreversible' melt
Researchers have warned that Antarctica's Pine Island Glacier(PIG) could now be in a state of irreversible retreat, making it an even more significant contributor to global sea level rise during the next two decades.
Three teams that have modelled its behavior have suggested that even if the region were to experience much colder conditions, the retreat would continue, the BBC reported.
PIG is a colossal feature, spreading in more than 160,000 sq km area and it drains about 20 percent of all the ice flowing off the west of the White Continent.
Satellite and airborne measurements have recorded a marked thinning and a surge in velocity in recent decades.
Dr Hilmar Gudmundsson from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) along with his colleagues in the UK, France and China, used numerical models to describe PIG's current and future behaviour, and they argue that it has now entered just such a mode.
Gudmundsson told the publication that they did a number of model runs where they allowed PIG to retreat some distance back, and then they lowered the melt rates in their models. And despite doing that, the grounding line continued to retreat.
The study was published in the journal Nature Climate Change.
(Posted on 15-01-2014)