Melting Ice Shelves

“Together, the Antarctic and Greenland Ice Sheets contain more than 99 percent of freshwater ice on Earth. If they both completely melted, they would raise sea level by an estimated 67.4 meters (223 feet). Long-term satellite data indicate that through most of the twentieth century, the ice sheets made very little contribution to sea level, and were nearly in balance in annual snowfall gain and ice or meltwater loss. However, the stability of the ice sheets has changed considerably in the twenty-first century…” – Ice Sheets Today

What the Melting of Antarctic Ice Shelves Means for the Planet – Inside Climate News

Edge of an ice shelf in Adelaide Island, off the Antarctic Peninsula (by Maria-Jose Vinas courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center CC BY 2.0 DEED via Flickr).

Antarctica’s ice shelves are the gatekeepers between the continent’s glaciers and the open ocean. As the planet warms, these shelves shrink, exposing more and more ice, which leads to more melting. This frozen continent rests under a massive ice sheet averaging more than a mile thick. But a recent study in Science Advances found that Antarctica had 68 ice shelves that shrunk significantly between 1997 and 2021, adding up to about 8.3 trillion tons lost during that time…