Effect of climatic warming on the West Antarctic ice sheet

Climatic warming could cause increased melting from Antarctic ice shelves. Continued weakening of the ice shelves in this way would result in the ultimate collapse of most of the West Antarctic ice sheet. For complete removal of the ice shelves collapse of the ice sheet and a 5 m rise in world sea level could occur in <100 yr. More realistically, ice-shelf deterioration is likely to be a rather slow process, and even for a major and sustained warming trend ice-sheet collapse would take several hundred years, with most of the associated rise in sea level occurring during the final century. However, little is known about the glaciers that drain the northern part of the ice sheet. These glaciers have little or no protective fringe of ice shelf and, unless they flow over sufficiently high bedrock sills, they may show a more rapid response to increased temperatures.


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Authors: Thomas, Robert H., Sanderson, Timothy J.O., Rose, Keith E.

1 January, 1979
Nature / 277
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