Antarctica: Itâ€™s Getting Hot at the Bottom of the Planet
One of the big environmental stories of 2012 was the record melting of sea ice in the Arctic, which reached its smallest extent this summer since satellite data began being kept in the late 1970s. But itâ€™s not the Arctic alone thatâ€™s reacting to manmade climate change by transforming into a large puddle. On the other end of the Earth, the continent of Antarctica contains enough ice to swamp just about every coastal city on the planet were it all to melt. The Arctic is transforming before our eyes, but itâ€™s changes in Antarctica that could make Waterworld into a documentary.
That day is still in the distant futureâ€”in fact, sea ice in Antarctica has actually increased in recent years, as more powerful northward winds refreeze ice on the continent. But as a new study published in Nature Geoscience shows, temperatures are on the increase in the massive West Antarctica Ice Sheet (WAIS)â€”and so is melting.