The Collapse of the Antarctic Ice-Shelf

The collapse of the Antarctic ice-shelf has given us new information on our current situation.

It would appear that the melting of the icebergs in the north can be linked to the rising levels of the oceans. The collapse of the Antarctic ice-shelf at the end of the last ice age has shed a different light on previous beliefs.

Scientists have reached a new conclusion in regard to the meltdown of the Nordic ice. In ancient times, it seems that the amount of ice that was lost through the ice streams of the warming Earth decreased. This means that the levels of the oceans might not rise as quickly as we thought and might not even pose a threat for the time being.

The newest study on the matter was released in the Nature journal last Wednesday.

Ice streams are glaciers bigger than 19,000 square miles that move quickly on the surface of the water. Their meltdown or retreat from regions such as Antarctica and Greenland have led many to believe that ocean and sea levels will rise in alarming ways, even leading to catastrophes. However, the results of the new study tell us not to fret as the impact of this phenomenon might not be as big as we thought.

Scientists analyzed 117 ice streams from ancient times that were located in the Laurentide Ice Sheet. This particular ice sheet has melted between 22,000 and 7,000 years ago, and used to cover a massive region from the north of North America. They could not find any clear evidence that the melting of the ice sheet has influenced the activity of the stream.

According to Chris Stokes, geology professor at the Durham University, researchers discovered that the ice sheets’ number has decreased and thus they arrived to occupying a smaller percentage of the perimeter of the ice sheet. Therefore, the melting of the surface has led to the final four or five thousands of years of deglaciation.

The new discovery demonstrates that previous beliefs could have been wrong. Even though warmer temperatures do not affect the activity of the ice stream, the surroundings of Laurentide were different from the ones we have today. Comparing the icy regions of two different eras can prove to be quite a challenge.

Even so, this is definitely a starting point for a more insightful analysis of the ice sheets of our planet and their implications. The collapse of the Antarctic ice-shelf might have led to different outcomes thousands of years ago, and the situation we face today might still go in unexpected ways.

Image Source: AFS