Antarctic Ice Shelf Set to Collapse -- But When?

Wed, 2006-11-29 10:59Ross Gelbspan
Ross Gelbspan's picture

Antarctic Ice Shelf Set to Collapse -- But When?

The Ross Ice Shelf, a massive piece of ice the size of France, could break off without warning causing a dramatic rise in sea levels, warn New Zealand scientists working in Antarctica. A New Zealand-led ice drilling team has recovered three million years of climate history from samples which gives clues as to what may happen in the future. And it's not comforting.

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I see from other research that the collapse of the smaller Larsen B ice sheet occurred over about a month’s time. Has anyone predicted when the Ross ice shelf might collapse, or how quickly it might go once it gets started? Has anyone predicted how quickly the projected 4m - 17m sea rise would follow a collapse of Ross? In case others are interested in looking at effects of sea level rise, here’s a great website that let’s you go anywhere on the globe and down to block-by-block detail with flooding depths of up to 14 meters. http://flood.firetree.net/?ll=42.3700,-71.0410&z=4&m=3 Very handy for visualizing the threat of sea-level rise from global warming. For example, when you set rise to 14m and zoom in on Boston, you’ll see that downtown Boston is reduced to an island around Beacon Hill, with Roxbury Crossing on the new mainland shoreline.