Destabilization: Scientists discover new unstable region the size of New Jersey under Antarctica Ice Sheet

May 10, 2012 ANTARTICA - Using ice-penetrating radar instruments flown on aircraft, a team of scientists from the U.S. and U.K. have uncovered a previously unknown sub-glacial basin nearly the size of New Jersey beneath the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) near the Weddell Sea. The location, shape and texture of the mile-deep basin suggest that this region of the ice sheet is at a greater risk of collapse than previously thought. Team members at The University of Texas at Austin compared data about the newly discovered basin to data they previously collected from other parts of the WAIS that also appear highly vulnerable, including Pine Island Glacier and Thwaites Glacier. Although the amount of ice stored in the new basin is less than the ice stored in previously studied areas, it might be closer to a tipping point. “If we were to invent a set of conditions conducive to retreat of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, this would be it,” said Don Blankenship, senior research scientist at The University of Texas at Austin’s Institute for Geophysics and co-author on the new paper. “With its smooth bed that slopes steeply toward the interior, we could find no other region in West Antarctica more poised for change than this newly discovered basin at the head of the Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf. The only saving grace is that losing the ice over this new basin would only raise sea level by a small percentage of the several meters that would result if the entire West Antarctic Ice Sheet destabilized.” The study’s co-authors also included Duncan Young, research scientist associate at the Institute for Geophysics. The study, published this week in the journal Nature Geoscience, was carried out in a collaboration led by the University of Edinburgh with the British Antarctic Survey and the Universities of Aberdeen, Exeter and York, as well as The University of Texas at Austin. “This is a significant discovery in a region of Antarctica that at present we know little about,” said Professor Martin Siegert of the University of Edinburgh, who led the project. “The area is on the brink of change, but it is impossible to predict what the impact of this change might be without further work enabling better understanding of how the West Antarctic Ice Sheet behaves.” The seaward edge of the newly discovered basin lies just inland of the ice sheet’s grounding line, where streams of ice flowing toward the sea begin to float. Two features of the basin, which is entirely below sea level, are particularly worrisome to scientists: First, like a cereal bowl, its edges slope down steeply. If the grounding line begins to retreat upstream, seawater will replace it and more ice will begin to float. The study’s authors predict that this positive feedback mechanism would sustain retreat of the ice sheet until eventually all of the ice filling the basin goes afloat. Second, the bed of the basin on which the ice rests is smooth. There are few big bumps, or “pinning points,” to hold back sliding ice. The newly discovered basin covers 20,000 square kilometers (7,700 square miles), nearly the size of New Jersey, and is well below sea level, nearly 2 kilometers (about 1.2 miles) deep in places. –UTA
See also: NASA finds growing crack in Antarctica’s Pine Glacier
“The idea that both poles may be simultaneously destabilizing and could be under threat of unleashing millions of tons of methane or ice shows the degree of seriousness in which the Earth changes have advanced while global climate change debates rage across the planet.” –The Extinction Protocol,  page 124
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This entry was posted in 2012, Earth Changes, Earth Watch, Environmental Threat, Extreme Weather Event, High-risk potential hazard zone, Seismic tremors, Signs of Magnetic Field weakening, Time - Event Acceleration, Volcano Watch. Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Destabilization: Scientists discover new unstable region the size of New Jersey under Antarctica Ice Sheet

  1. Discordian says:

    Er, I have aquestion. What happened to the x flare article that was here earlier? Did admin. pull it? Or did someone who wants to cover up the situation hack the site and dispose of the article? I’ve seen it happen before, and a potential x flare hit is certainly sensitive information.

    • Melissa says:

      Discordian, go over to the May archives, then scroll down to ‘more’, then scroll down to the article.

  2. suz says:

    All these changes are kind of scary and exciting at the same time. All this will have a dramatic impact in the area and also the entire world will feel it through erratic shifts in climate.
    Scientists feel that by the year 2040 the Antartic will loose all of it’s ice.

  3. I went back to my email notification on the Solar Flare and It loaded up here, but you are right, it isn’t listed here anymore.

    • Brandon says:

      Sorry but articles have been put forth confirming that sea ice is melting from underneath the water. It’s not growing.

  4. Emanni says:

    Antarctic Octopus Study Shows West Antarctic Ice Sheet May Have Collapsed 200,000 Years Ago
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120509111453.htm?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=greenmeme
    Scientists at the University have found that genetic information on the Antarctic octopus supports studies indicating that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet could have collapsed during its history,

  5. Emanni says:

    Methane Emissions from the Arctic Ocean
    http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=77868
    “While the methane levels we detected weren’t particularly large, the potential source region, the Arctic Ocean, is vast,” he said. “Our finding could represent a noticeable new global source of methane.”


  6. Conor Brennan says:

    I have been in contact with an archaelogist who is adament that there is massive excavation going on under the ice quietly ina joint operation between the US and Russians, in and around that fresh water lake they found Lake Vostok. They found somthing apparently. I have emailed the guy a second time and when he comes back, ill copy and paste the whole lot here for your persual. Scary stuff

  7. Maverick says:

    What bugs me is the scientists seem to overlook the possibilty that there could be a domino effect, with this basin’s collapse trigerring that of the neighbouring ones, maybe even large events at the North Pole ?

  8. suz says:

    And researchers didn’t expect to find Mount Fuji size volcanos there but they did. Several of them. The volcanoes stand almost two miles tall and contain 3-mile-diameter craters. Scientists admit that undersea hot lava is baking ocean sediments and releasing greenhouse gases.
    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/07/110715-undersea-volcanoes-antarctica-science-tsunamis/

  9. warpskullz says:

    Don’t forget you got all the gold japan buried down there in WW2. The gold stolen from the chinese….
    China’s had enough of america’s crap and is calling it a day. Thank god for that.

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