Antarctica

Melting ice sheets may alter our weather while raising sea levels

Terminus of the Russell Glacier. Landscape close to the Greenland Ice Sheet near Kangerlussuaq.
Landscape on the Greenland Ice Sheet near Kangerlussuaq. America. North America. Greenland. Denmark. Photo: Martin Zwick/REDA&CO/UIG via Getty Images.

Sea level rise isn't the only thing we have to worry about as the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets melt. A new modeling study finds that runoff from these ice sheets could significantly alter crucial ocean currents in ways that disrupt the Gulf Stream and accelerate ice loss in West Antarctica.

Why it matters: The study, published in the journal Nature on Wednesday, shows the potentially far-reaching ramifications of ice melt.

A 1,000-foot tall chasm is found within a crucial Antarctic glacier

An inlet filled with sea ice around Venable Ice Shelf.
An inlet filled with sea ice around Venable Ice Shelf, as seen during an Operation IceBridge flight on Nov. 16, 2017. Photo: NASA/Nathan Kurtz.

Two important studies on Antarctic ice shed light on how much progress scientists are making to predict the continent's future, and how little we really know.

The threat: The first study, published on Jan. 30 in Science Advances, used synthetic aperture radar from satellites and aircraft to determine the motion and structure of the rapidly melting Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica.

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