Glaciers melting at a fast rate

Some researchers released their analysis of 6 glaciers in western Antarctica based on observations from the last 40 years. Their findings show that glaciers in the Amundsen Sea area are melting, and are going to continue to melt at a faster rate. This is a concern as over time it can lead to a significant rise in water levels. A glacier is like a river of frozen ice that has been formed by snow falling and compacting on land over a long period of time.

In the past 50 years, the temperature has shot up by around 2.5 degrees Celsius (4 degrees Fahrenheit) in the Antarctic Peninsula area. Scientists believe that this has contributed to faster melting of glaciers. Antarctica is a continent owned by no one and is shared by many countries for scientific research. It is the coldest place on Earth, and it’s also the biggest desert in the world! Wait, but isn’t Antarctica cold and doesn’t it have a lot of ice? Yes, but the definition of a “desert” is an area where it hardly ever rains or snows or hails.

When large chunks of ice break off glaciers or ice shelves, they appear blue in color and not white. Wonder why? Ice is usually white because it has little bubbles inside which help reflect light. But ice in glaciers is very compact, and has no bubbles. Only blue light manages to go through the ice while the rest gets absorbed.

The  Amundsen Sea is named after the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen (image). In 1911, he was the first person to reach the South Pole.

You can watch a video about the recent findings here.

Image Credits: nasa.gov for Thwaites Glacier and Antarctica’s image
Sources: NASA, http://www.antarctica.ac.uk/