Antarctica Floating Ice Shelves are Rapidly Melting
By: Kendall McClung
Satellite data from 1994 to 2012 has shown an accelerating in the melting of Antarctica’s floating ice shelves. Some have shrunk up to 18 percent from their original size. Scientists claim that this will increase the water in the ocean, and cause it to dramatically rise.
This study was done by three European Space Agency satellite missions, which lasted for 18 years. The area that was observed was more than 415,000 square miles in size. The first half of the study resulted in little West Antarctica losses balanced out by East Antarctica gains. This soon ended, as more of West Antarctica and East Antarctica began to decline. Two major losses from West Antarctica were from the Crosson Ice Shelf and the Venable Ice Shelf which both lost 18 percent of their volume. If this continues, there could be loss of entire ice shelves in Antarctica before the end of the century.
The melting of the ice shelves is not what causes the rise in sea level. The floating ice shelves act as a wall for land based ice. With their reduction, there would be an increase of the flow of ice into the ocean, which would then increase sea levels.
The main ethical issue related to ice shelves melting is an excess of fossil fuels being burned and putting more CO2 into the environment, which causes climate change. With our dependence on oil, Americans alone are contributing to global warming which is leading to ice levels decreasing in Antarctica. We have not taken into account what would happen to the planet if all the ice in Antarctica melted. Not only would sea levels rise, species would have their habitats destroyed and would have a difficult time surviving. There would also be loss of other ocean life, disrupted food chains, and severe weather. Many of the methods we are currently using to produce energy such as mining, mountain top removal, and fracking are extremely harsh on the atmosphere and release tons of toxic waste into the air. Without a change, we could be looking at an ice-less arctic as early as 2030.
What do you think can be done about the decrease of Ice shelves in Antarctica? Do you think it is too late to save them?