Antarctica - home to the greatest ice sheets on Earth - has two types of ice sheets. The West Antarctic Ice Sheet is based on a platform below sea level. Whereas, the East Antarctic Ice Sheet rests above the sea level.
The East Ice Sheet holds up to 10 times more ice than the West Ice Sheet. Both the ice sheets are deteriorating at a very fast pace, posing a number of environmental problems. This draws the attention of many scientists’ towards the polar regions.
The East Ice Sheet being based above the sea level is relatively safer. This is because the warming ocean waters wash the West Ice sheets from beneath and hence melting it from below.
It has been officially announced that due to the melting ice sheets, the sea levels are tremendously increasing.
In a study published on Monday in the journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences”, the researchers illustrated that this ice-clad continent is losing more than six times as much ice as it was in the 1980s.
Antarctica has lost an extremely huge volume of ice between 2009 and 2017. The destruction is even added with the melting of glaciers on Greenland and those vanishing on Earth’s mountains.
“We’ve seen some other papers recently noting increased ice loss in East Antarctica, and for the first time here we’re seeing some of those numbers incorporated into a full ice sheet analysis,” says Twila Moon, a researcher at the US National Snow & Ice Data Center.
“Now this study and others have shown an incredible speed-up of melting in Antarctica. We need to be concerned that there will be a huge contribution to sea level rise from Antarctica as well”, said Jessica Cherry, an Alaska-based hydrologist for the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The Antarctic ice sheet is one of the two polar ice caps of the Earth. It covers about 98% of the entire Antarctic continent. Approximately 6% of all fresh water on the Earth is held in the Antarctic ice sheet. This amount is equivalent to about 58 meters of sea-level rise.
According to past studies, the rise has been happening since long but it was not of statistical importance. The cause behind this recent rise can be the climatic effects on the ocean and atmospheric circulation of the ozone hole.
The melting has been happening continuously since long now and the scientists yet are unable to identify when is this going to stop. Rather the studies show that the melting is expected to only rise in the coming future causing many drastic implications to the planet Earth.
Scientists once declared that these ice sheets are immune to melting but now these are losing enough of ice into the sea. This melting could mean two to three feet of rise in the sea level by the end of the century. Thus, the situation needs to be controlled soon.