Huge Antarctic ice sheet ‘melted during similar temperatures to today’ raising fears of catastrophic global floods. Glaciologists fear a new collapse could again send sea levels rising, this time resulting in devastating world floods. Flooding of huge swathes of land caused by the melting of a huge Antarctic ice sheet around 125,000 years ago, could be seen again today because the world’s temperatures are similar, scientists have suggested. Temperatures during this interglacial period, also known as the Emian, were only one or two degrees warmer than today’s average temperatures across the planet, but sea levels were between six and nine metres higher. Since then, the most recent ice age froze the earth, but although temperatures are once again on the rise, sea levels only risen modestly. New evidence has suggested that a huge mass of water, currently locked away in the West Antarctic ice sheet, was exposed to rising temperatures during the Emian period as a result of slight changes in the Earth’s orbit and spin axis. The UK-sized Thwaites glacier in west Antarctica, is fast retreating and this volume of water alone would ultimately raise global sea level by about three metres, scientists warned in September this year. Meanwhile, Nasa has detected new signs large glaciers in East Antarctica, previously thought to be stable are losing ice, also raising the prospect of catastrophic sea level rises as global temperatures increase.
Independent 19th Dec 2018 read more »
An invasion of flightless, biteless midges have arrived uninvited in Antarctica where their rapid proliferation represents a major threat to the fragile ecosystem, scientists have warned. Eretmoptera murphyi are endemic on Signy Island which sits between South Georgia – a British overseas territory just over 1,000 miles east of southern Argentina – and the Antarctic mainland. The insect – a “decomposer” species – feeds on dead organic matter, releasing large volumes of nitrogen as well as nutrients into the soil, which has had an effect on peat decomposition and soil structure.
Independent 18th Dec 2018 read more »