The Irreversible Melting of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The coast of Antarctica The coast of Antarctica (Copyright: Matt Berger/Shutterstock)

Two studies released this week confirmed that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is collapsing and there is very little that can be done to stop or slow it. The melting ice could ultimately mean a 10-foot sea level rise. Thomas Wagner, Cryospere Program Scientist with NASA, explains why the ice sheet is melting and what it means for the planet's future.


Thomas Wagner

Comments [10]

Ed from Larchmont

As we learn in the Judeo-Christian tradition, God is about the business of saving individual people, and about the business of saving humanity as a whole. But as has become more visible recently, God is also about the business of restoring creation to it's original state and bringing it to perfection also (see St. Paul and Revelation). Good news indeed. Let's hope fusion comes along soon too!

May. 16 2014 08:08 AM
Amy from Manhattan

Ciro, the effects of volcanic eruptions are short-term. The eruption of Krakatoa caused what was called the "year without a summer," but it was only 1 year--very short compared w/the effects of global climate disruption.

May. 15 2014 01:43 PM
Ciro from Garfield, NJ

If a catastrophic volcanic event occurred, would that help reverse warming and promote a possible new ice age?
Also, shouldn't all the at-risk coastal cities prepare plans for dykes, ala The Netherlands?

May. 15 2014 01:33 PM
Amy from Manhattan

That said, & for all that "Hedwig" is a great & even important show, I'm sure, I think giving it the whole 1st hour (minus pitching) & these 2 crucial environmental topics only half that shows misplaced priorities. I'd have liked to hear each of the latter get twice the time.

May. 15 2014 01:28 PM
Amy from Manhattan

I appreciate Mr. (Dr.?) Wagner's going into how it's a question of *how much* we can affect the melting of the ice sheets, & global climate disruption in general. There's too much either-or, all-or-nothing thinking going on, when instead it's a matter of degree--how much we can limit or slow it.

May. 15 2014 01:24 PM
Amy from Manhattan

When the ice sheet melts, will those islands that have been under it be exposed, or will they be below the new, higher sea level?

May. 15 2014 01:14 PM
Joel from Nyack

How much is the sea level expected to rise on the east coast of the U.S. in the short term, for example, the next 25 years?

May. 15 2014 01:13 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

Venice seems to have managed somehow. New Yorkers will just have to go work in gondolas instead of taxis. Positive side; no cars and no bikes. Negative side: watch out for nuts on jet skis.

May. 15 2014 01:12 PM
Ed from Larchmont

How beautiful this picture is.

May. 15 2014 07:53 AM
Ed from Larchmont

Kind of an important topic.

'Though the mountains fall into the sea, even then would I trust.' Psalms.

May. 15 2014 07:51 AM

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