Antarctic Thaw Now Unstoppable

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The continued melting of the West Antarctic ice sheet is progressing faster than expected, and the resulting rise in sea levels will have a global impact.The stark new findings point to a potential sea-level rise of up to 10 feet or more in the coming centuries. This increase in the global sea-level will threaten many major cities, including New York, London, Calcutta, Venice, and so on. Observational evidence shows that a large sector of the West Antarctic ice sheet has gone into irreversible retreat. The cause is stronger winds, possibly resulting from global warming, that are altering Antarctic Ocean currents and pushing warmer water under the coastal glaciers that form the boundary of the ice sheet.

Untethered from the seabed, the glaciers melt more rapidly, allowing chunks of the 60,000-square-mile ice sheet to fall into the sea, adding millions of gallons of freshwater to the world’s oceans. Studying satellite images and other data from the past 40 years, scientists were able to document the melting of six coastal glaciers. Says Thomas P. Wagner, who oversaw part of the re-search for NASA, “This is really happening, there’s nothing to stop it now.” If this is so, then the Lost City of Atlantis is going to have a lot of company in the next millennium.