Satellite view of Antarctic's Pine Island Glacier. The glacier 'has started a phase of self-sustained retreat and will irreversibly continue its decline,' says Gael Durand, a glaciologist with France’s Grenoble Alps University, told Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Photo: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

By Ari Phillips   
13 January 2014

(Climate Progress) – After last week’s Arctic-fueled cold snap — dubbed the ‘Polar Vortex’ — brought freezing temperatures and claims of climate change denial to the attention of the general public, the situation has now returned to normal. Or the new normal at least — in which climate change happens out-of-sight and out-of-mind for many Americans.

One of the latest indicators that climate change is progressing whether we’re looking or not comes from a study in the journal Nature Climate Change finding that one of the largest glaciers in Antarctica has started melting irreversibly.

An international team of researchers found that Antarctica’s Pine Island Glacier, the single largest Antarctic contributor to sea-level rise, could add as much as one centimeter to ocean levels within the next 20 years.

The glacier “has started a phase of self-sustained retreat and will irreversibly continue its decline,” Gael Durand, a glaciologist with France’s Grenoble Alps University, told Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

The team of researchers used state-of-the-art ice-flow models and field observations to help determine how the glacier’s ice flows will change in coming years.

“At the Pine Island Glacier we have seen that not only is more ice flowing from the glacier into the ocean, but it’s also flowing faster across the grounding line — the boundary between the grounded ice and the floating ice,” Dr. G. Hilmar Gudmundsson, a researcher on the project, told Planet Earth Magazine.

The glaciologists found that that glacier’s grounding line, which has already receded up to 10 kilometers this century, is “probably engaged in an unstable 40-kilometer retreat.” [more]

Massive Antarctic Glacier Has Entered Irreversible Melt, Could Add Up To 1 Centimeter To Sea Level

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