- Massive ice shelves that cling to the edges of Antarctica are breaking apart, and their collapse is allowing enormous glaciers behind them to slide into the ocean, raising sea level.
- Scientists need to better understand why and how fast the ice shelves are disintegrating so that they can better estimate future sea-level rise.
- Satellite data about glaciers are not detailed enough for accurate estimates. Scientists have made recent expeditions to Antarctica to install instruments that will give them the information they need. Author Douglas Fox accompanied them on an eventful eight-week trip and documents that experience here. He also describes the data now streaming in and what they predict for the planet.
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In 1995, 10 argentine soldiers witnessed a cataclysm that no other humans have ever seen, one that has since altered our understanding of climate change.
The men were stationed at Matienzo Base, a dreary cluster of steel huts that sat atop a wedge of volcanic rock jutting from the sea, 50 kilometers off the coast of Antarctica. The island was surrounded by a plain of glacial ice covering 1,500 square kilometers—25 times the area of Manhattan. Although the ice shelf floated on the sea, it was 200 meters thick—as solid as bedrock. Yet Captain Juan Pedro Brückner sensed that something was wrong. Meltwater had formed ponds that dotted the ice. He could hear a gurgling sound as the water seeped down into a network of descending cracks. Day and night, Brückner's men heard deep convulsions that sounded like subway trains passing underneath their beds. The rumbles grew more and more frequent.