How unstable is the West Antarctic ice sheet?

In the late 1970s, many people still thought that a cooling trend in the Northern Hemisphere heralded the next ice age. But some were already claiming that rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations, and the "inherent instability" of the land-based West Antarctic ice sheet (WAIS), threatened a sea-level rise that would displace millions of people in a matter of decades. By 1989, a series of warm years were feeding concern that a runaway green-house effect indeed spelt disaster for the world's ice sheets. "WE COULD BE A CITY BY THE SEA" read a Cambridge Evening News headline and the Green Party took 15% of the British votes for the European Parliament – assessing the potential for disintegration of the polar ice sheets has been recognised as an urgent task.


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Authors: Frolich, Richard

1 January, 1992
Physics World / 5
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