Antarctica fears: How icy continent threatens to flood New York in 20ft water | Science | News


Antarctica is Earth’s southernmost continent, covered in 98 percent ice – the largest single mass on Earth. This sheet weighs 27 billion gigatons and makes up roughly 61 percent of all freshwater on Earth. New research suggests this area is thinning five times faster than the Nineties – thanks to climate change – meaning large chunks of glaciers are sliding into the ocean and melting.

A new NASA-backed study eerily warned the icy continent has reached a tipping point, where the affects are now “past the point of no return”.

While the damage is already done, scientists are warning it is now about damage limitation.

Robin Bell, from Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, revealed during Nova documentary “The Secret Of Antarctica” what the future could hold.

She warned in 2015: “Most people don’t think that changes in Antarctica matters to them. 

Antarctica could cause New York to be flooded

Antarctica could cause New York to be flooded (Image: GETTY)

Antarctica is melting at an alarming rate

Antarctica is melting at an alarming rate (Image: GETTY)

It would raise the sea level in Manhattan by about 19 feet

Robin Bell

“But when we look at New York City and we look at it as if it is from the front of the ocean – it matters.

“If Antarctica melts, the sea level goes up 12 storeys in New York City.

“It would raise the sea level in Manhattan by about 19 feet.”

Rob DeConto, Climate Modeller from the University of Massachusetts theorised what could happen before the end of the century if humans do not act.

He said: “Sea levels would rise by more than 150 feet.

“This would flood coastal cities and displace hundreds of millions of people.

“That would be a change that you could see from space.

“Earth would look different.

“Big sections of Brooklyn would be underwater and certainly cities on the Mediterranean like Venice would look very different.”

Unlike the Arctic, Antarctica is a massive land mass that is covered in ice formed from snowfall.

There is some floating ice around the perimeter of the land, but the vast majority of Antarctic ice is on land.

When land ice melts, the liquid water flows into the ocean and causes the water levels to rise.

Robin Bell revealed the shocking revelation

Robin Bell revealed the shocking revelation (Image: VOXY)

Rob DeConto

Rob DeConto agreed coastal cities are at risk (Image: VOXY)

This difference not only affects how these regions respond to climate change, but it also impacts their importance. 

Global warming is causing this ice to melt at a concerning rate.

Over the last decade, humans have increasingly burned greenhouse gasses to power a modern world. 

Certain gasses – most notably carbon dioxide – trap heat in the Earth’s atmosphere, causing what is known as the greenhouse effect.

Sunlight shines onto the Earth’s surface, where the energy is absorbed and then radiate back into the atmosphere as heat. 

In the atmosphere, greenhouse gas molecules trap some of the heat, and the rest escapes into space. 

The more greenhouse gases concentrate in the atmosphere, the more heat gets locked up in the molecules.

Former US Vice President Al Gore revealed during his 2006 book “An Inconvenient Truth” a shocking “warning sign” that painted the sobering reality.

He wrote: “John Mercer was a scientist whose work I first saw when I was investigating global warming as a member of Congress. 

“He said in 1978: ‘One of the warning signs that a dangerous warming trend is under way in Antarctica will be the break-up of the Antarctic Peninsula, starting with the northernmost and extending gradually southward.” 

Discussing a photo revealing the ice shelf disappearance, he added: “Here is the Antarctica Peninsula, each orange splotch represents an ice shelf the size of Rhode Island or larger that has broken up since Mercer issued his warning. 

“The red splotch marked 2002 is the Larsen-B, also portrayed in the photograph to the left – which illustrates the massive size of the ice shelves, rising roughly 700 feet above the ocean surface.” 

The Larsen B ice sheet broke up

The Larsen B ice sheet broke up (Image: WIKI)

Mr Gore went on to discuss how this thick chunk of ice vanished in little over a month, stunning scientists. 

He continued: “The Larsen-B ice shelf, as photographed below, was about 150 miles long and 30 miles wide. 

“When you look at the black pools on top of it, it seems as if you are looking through the ice to the ocean beneath. 

“Actually those are pools of melting water collecting on top of the shelf. 

“Scientists thought this ice shelf would be stable for at least another century – even with global warming. 

“But starting on January 31, 2002, within 35 days, it completely broke up, scientists were absolutely astonished, they couldn’t figure out how in the world this happened so quickly.” 



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