A hidden island has been discovered in Antarctica because of melting glaciers caused by climate change
An ever hidden island was discovered in Antarctica after melting glaciers caused by record high temperatures revealed its rocky coast to passing scientists.
A group of polar researchers from the Thwaites Offshore Research (THOR) project saw the island as their ship sailed through Pine Island Bay in Antarctica.
The island was named by the THOR glacier research team after the Norwegian goddess of fertility and family, who was also the wife of the warrior god Thor.
Researchers aboard the Nathaniel B. Palmer ship are studying Thwaites Glacier in the Bay of Pine Island, one of the fastest retreating glaciers in Antarctica.
The team does not know how long the island has been exposed, but says it has probably been revealed by higher than usual temperatures due to climate change.
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The new island is called Sif by researchers who say it was discovered because of the high temperatures that melt ice caps
“After being the first visitors, we can now confirm that Sif Island is made of granite and that it is covered with remaining ice plates and a few seals,” said Julia Smith Wellner of the THOR expedition team
It is big enough for satellites to spot from space, but the island never seen before was hidden under thick layers of ice.
The team did not say how big the island is, but they hope that future missions can study it in more detail.
Ships rarely travel as far south as the Palmer, so the crew is probably the first to discover the island and possibly the first people to step on the rocky coast.
“After being the first visitors, we can now confirm that Sif Island is made of granite and that it is covered with remaining ice plates and a few seals,” said Julia Smith Wellner of the THOR expedition team.
They took samples from the island hoping to get a clearer picture of how the frozen continent is shifting, but will not know for sure until they come to a laboratory in March.
“This one island can hold many clues,” University of Virginia in Glacier Geologist Lauren Simkins, Charlottesville told Nature news.
As glaciers retreat, they release pressure on the continent, raising the ground beneath the ice – a process called rapid rebound.
This sometimes stabilizes the ice by anchoring it in place, but can also accelerate the breaking of the glacier by creating more cracks.
“Rapid rebound can increase the tension on the remaining ice sheet, making it fall apart faster,” she said.
“But a rising continental shelf can also anchor glaciers, increase their stability and slow their march to the sea.”
When they first saw the new island, there was a commotion on board when everyone rushed to see the rocky land between miles of water and ice.
“I think I see rocks,” shouted an officer aboard the ship.
They looked at maps and maps of the area and realized that it was a “brand new island” that was probably “never seen before.”
“There was a commotion when everyone on board rushed to see the rocky, ice-covered rock and suggest possible names.
“But the crowds quickly gave way to excitement about the scientific implications of the find,” says Wellner, a marine geologist at the University of Houston in Texas.
Ships rarely travel as far south as the Palmer, so the crew is probably the first to discover the island and possibly the first people to step on the rocky coast
The island is big enough for satellites to spot from space, but the island never seen before was hidden under thick layers of ice
Climate scientist Peter Neff investigated the new images and satellite data to try to determine how long they were discovered.
He said it looks like “Sif Island” has been slowly unveiled since about 2010.
The THOR project is an international mission to study the stability of the huge Thwaites glacier in Pine Island Bay, West Antarctica.
Researchers say that the melting ice on the new rock will help them better determine how quickly changes occur and what this means for the glacier.
“New islands that emerge when the ice sheet retreats is not particularly surprising,” Paul Cutler, glaciology program director at the US National Science Foundation in Alexandria, Virginia, told Nature News.
“New islands have appeared in the Canadian Arctic and Greenland in recent years,” but this is “an exciting opportunity to merge the geological history of a vastly undervalued region on Earth.”
The new discovery comes when NASA has registered a record high temperature for the continent – at 64 degrees Fahrenheit with melted ice seen from space.
This is also not the first island in Antarctica that is influenced by rising temperatures.
Satellite images revealed 20 percent of the snow on Eagle Island melted in just 10 days last week due to extreme temperatures.
Thwaites Glacier is located in West Antarctica and is sometimes called the Doomsday Glacier because of the potential impact on sea levels worldwide
The warm period began on February 5 and continued until February 13, with a peak on February 6, with temperatures on the Antarctic Peninsula up to 18.9 ° C (64.9 ° F).
“I have not seen melting puddles in Antarctica so quickly,” said glaciologist Mauri Pelto of Nichols College in Massachusetts.
“You see this type of melting event in Alaska and Greenland, but usually not in Antarctica.”
Sometimes called the Doomsday Glacier because of the potential impact that the collapse could have on sea level, Thwaites is unusually wide and fast.
Thwaites already accounts for around four percent of the worldwide sea level rise because hot water causes it to melt from the bottom.
Researchers have long been concerned that a turning point in stability on the foundations could lead to a collapse of the glacier.
Several teams are currently studying the glacier to determine the risk it poses for sea level and the newly discovered island will feed that work.
HOW MANY WILL SEA LEVELS IN THE FOLLOWING CENTURIES?
Global sea level could rise to 2300 by as much as 1.2 meters (4 feet), even if we reach the 2015 Paris climate targets, scientists have warned.
The long-term change will be driven by a thaw of ice from Greenland to Antarctica, which will redraw the coastlines worldwide.
The rise in sea level threatens cities from Shanghai to London, to low-lying parts of Florida or Bangladesh, and to entire nations such as the Maldives.
It is vital that we reduce emissions as quickly as possible to prevent even greater increases, a team of researchers led by Germany said in a new report.
By 2300, the report predicted sea levels would rise by 0.7 – 1.2 meters, even if nearly 200 countries fully met the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement.
The goals set in the agreements include reducing greenhouse gas emissions to zero in the second half of this century.
The ocean level will rise inexorably, because existing industrial gases that retain heat in the atmosphere will linger, causing more ice to melt.
Moreover, water naturally expands as it heats above four degrees Celsius (39.2 ° F).
Every five years after 2020 in the peak of global emissions would mean an additional 20 centimeters (8 inch) rise in sea level by 2300.
“Sea level is often communicated as a very slow process that you can’t do much about … but the next 30 years really matter,” says lead author Dr. Matthias Mengel from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Potsdam, Germany, told Reuters.
None of the nearly 200 governments signing the Paris agreements is on track to deliver on its promises.