Ice movement on the Antarctic ice sheet. Graphic: The New York Times

By Justin Gillis
18 May 2017

(The New York Times) – We went to Antarctica to understand how changes to its vast ice sheet might affect the world. Flowing lines on these maps show how the ice is moving.

Ice sheets flow downhill, seemingly in slow motion. Mountains funnel the ice into glaciers. And ice flowing from the land into the sea can form a floating ice shelf.

The acceleration is making some scientists fear that Antarctica’s ice sheet may have entered the early stages of an unstoppable disintegration.

Because the collapse of vulnerable parts of the ice sheet could raise the sea level dramatically, the continued existence of the world’s great coastal cities — Miami, New York, Shanghai, and many more — is tied to Antarctica’s fate.

Four New York Times journalists joined a Columbia University team in Antarctica late last year to fly across the world’s largest chunk of floating ice in an American military cargo plane loaded with the latest scientific gear. […]

“I don’t think the biblical deluge is just a fairy tale,” said Terence J. Hughes, a retired University of Maine glaciologist living in South Dakota. “I think some kind of major flood happened all over the world, and it left an indelible imprint on the collective memory of mankind that got preserved in these stories.” [more]

Miles of Ice Collapsing Into the Sea

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