Kritisches Antarktis Eisschelf zerbricht infographic
Grafik zeigt das Ausmaß des Rückgangs des Pine Island Gletschers mit Erklärungen zu dem Ereignis.


Pine Island Gletscher droht zu zerbrechen

By Ninian Carter

June 15, 2021 - Der Pine Island Gletscher wird zunehmend verletzlicher, da das riesige schwimmende Eisschelf, das ihn vor dem Absturz in das Meer stoppt, gegenüber früher immer schneller zu riesigen Eisbergen zerbricht.

Antarctica’s Pine Island Glacier ice shelf loss has been accelerating since 2017, giving scientists cause to worry that climate change means the glacier could collapse hundreds of years earlier than predicted.

The fast moving glacier is composed of 160 trillion tonnes of ice – equivalent to half-a-metre of sea level rise – responsible for about 25% of the continent’s ice loss.

The ice shelf is important because it acts like a cork, blocking Pine Island Glacier (a much larger ice mass that lies behind it) from rapidly flowing into the ocean and melting.

For there to be an harmonious balance, the amount of ice melting should equal the amount of snow falling and forming ice in the region. If the glacier is allowed to enter the sea and thaw uninhibited, the scales will tip and global sea levels will rise.

The Pine Island Glacier ice shelf retreated more than 26km from 2015 to 2020, according to a research paper published in Science Advances. Lead author Ian Joughin, a glaciologist from the University of Washington, believes it’s not inconceivable that the whole shelf gives way within a few years.

Reports such as these highlight the vulnerability of Antarctica, a major reservoir for potential sea level rise, and illustrates just how important it is for humankind to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible.

PUBLISHED: 16/06/2021; STORY: Graphic News