Rapid Retreat of an Antarctic Glacier Could Lead to Rapid Sea Level Rise

An Antarctic glacier has retreated nearly 3 miles in 22 years, and scientists worry that the rapid retreat could lead to climate-driven collapse.

Researchers studying radar data recorded by a satellite say the Denman Glacier in East Antarctica has been experiencing rapid melting. The pace could speed up even more if the glacier’s western slope, which has a deep trough and slope shape that makes it susceptible to rapid retreat, comes into play. If the whole glacier were to collapse into the sea, worldwide sea levels would rise by up to five feet.

Eric Rignot, a study co-author and scientist at the University of California, Irvine (UCI), told UCI News, “The ice in West Antarctica has been melting faster in recent years, but the sheer size of Denman Glacier means its potential impact on long-term sea level rise is just as significant.”

The researchers, whose study was published in Geophysical Research Letters, will continue to monitor the glacier.

Author: Larry Richardson

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