A team of New Zealand scientists working in Antarctica has warned that the Ross Ice Shelf, a massive piece of ice the size of France, could break off without warning, leading to a dramatic rise in sea levels, according to a New Zealand Press Association report published in The Sydney Morning Herald (30 November 2006 p11).
It’s happened before: Initial analysis of seafloor cores near Scott Base suggests the Ross Ice Shelf had collapsed in the past and had probably done so suddenly. “If the past is any indication of the future, then the ice shelf will collapse,” the team’s co-chief scientist, Tim Naish, said.
Domino effect: “If the ice shelf goes, then what about the West Antarctic Ice Sheet?” he said. “What we’ve learnt from the Antarctic Peninsula is when once buttressing ice sheets go, the glaciers feeding them move faster and that’s the thing that isn’t so cheery.”