Rising bedrock could save vulnerable Antarctic ice sheet

Avatar By Le Williams | 2 years ago

The study, published in Science by an international research team, found that the bedrock below the WAIS is rising, a process known as “uplift,” at record rates as melting ice removes weight, potentially stabilizing the ice sheet that scientists feared would be lost to climate change.

“The rate of uplift we found is unusual and very surprising. It’s a game changer,” study co-author and Ohio State University (OSU) earth science professor Terry Wilson said in an OSU press release.

The research results represent a favorable report for coastal residents since the WAIS could cause more than three meters (approximately 9.84 feet) of sea level rise if it collapsed, according to The Independent.

As the ice melts, weight is removed from the ground beneath it, which springs up and moves the remaining ice further from the warming water melting it from below.

study co-author and Colorado State University professor Rick Aster explained, “This very rapid uplift may slow the runaway wasting and eventual collapse of the ice sheet.”

Aster added, “The uplift tends to stabilize the critical grounding line where the ice sheet loses contact with underlying bedrock or sediment and goes afloat.”

Scientists not involved in the study said the findings would not ultimately save the ice sheet if humans keep “stomping on the climate gas pedal.”

“It’s not a get out of jail free card,” Ted Scambos, a glaciologist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado told Science. “It’s more of a refinement on the pace of [ice sheet] collapse.”

The conclusions underline the fact that there is still more to discover how exactly climate change will interact with other earth systems when assessing how its impacts will transpire.