New Paper: Antarctic Glacier Melted Just As Fast 8000 Years Ago

  • Date: 21/02/14
  • Lewis Page, The Register

Top boffins from the British Antarctic Survey say that the Pine Island Glacier – famous as a possible major cause of global-warming-powered sea level rises – was melting just as fast thousands of years ago as it is melting today.

“This paper [just published] is part of a wide range of international scientific efforts to understand the behaviour of this important glacier,” explains Professor Mike Bentley, one of the leaders of a BAS effort to find out what’s going on with the PIG.

“The results are clear in showing a remarkably abrupt thinning of the glacier 8000 years ago,” adds the professor.

The Pine Island Glacier has been much studied over the last two decades, as the rate of ice melting into the sea there has accelerated during those years. Many scientists have theorised that this might be due to global warming caused by human burning of fossil fuels. It’s been suggested that the PIG on its own might cause sea levels to rise by several centimetres this century (for background the seas rose about 17cm in the last century. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change expects this to increase massively this century, though there’s plenty of research to suggest otherwise.)

However it now appears that the recent rapid flow of the PIG into the sea may just be one of those things that happens from time to time, as it did 8,000 years ago.

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