What is happening to the Antarctic ice sheet?
Since the early 1990s, Antarctica has lost roughly three trillion tons of ice. Today, the rate of loss is accelerating as warm ocean water melts and destabilizes the floating ice shelves that hold back West Antarctica’s glaciers, causing those glaciers to flow more quickly into the sea.
Does Antarctica have ice sheets?
The Antarctic Ice Sheet extends almost 14 million square kilometers (5.4 million square miles), roughly the area of the contiguous United States and Mexico combined. The Antarctic Ice Sheet contains 30 million cubic kilometers (7.2 million cubic miles) of ice.
What is the Antarctic ice sheet called?
The Antarctic ice sheet is divided by the Transantarctic Mountains into two unequal sections called the East Antarctic ice sheet (EAIS) and the smaller West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS). The EAIS rests on a major land mass but the bed of the WAIS is, in places, more than 2,500 metres below sea level.
Is the Antarctic ice sheet expanding?
The Arctic regularly reaches ever smaller extents of end-of-summer minimum extents of sea ice. This changing sea ice extent is cited by the IPCC as an indicator of a warming world. However, sea ice extent is growing in Antarctica . In fact, it’s recently broken a record for maximum extent.
Why can’t people go to Antarctica?
Antarctica is not a country: it has no government and no indigenous population. Instead, the entire continent is set aside as a scientific preserve. The Antarctic Treaty, which came into force in 1961, enshrines an ideal of intellectual exchange. Military activity is banned, as is prospecting for minerals.
Can ice shelves collapse?
Every summer in Antarctica, ice on the surface of the ice shelf melts and that water travels into the snow below where it refreezes. “We know that when melted ice accumulates on the surface of ice shelves, it can make them fracture and collapse spectacularly.