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Studies Show West Antarctic Ice Sheet Is Collapsing

Evening Edition

Aired 6/2/14 on KPBS Midday Edition.

GUESTS:

Helen Amanda Fricker, Professor, Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics at Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Jeff Severinghaus, Professor of Geosciences, Scripps Institution of Oceanography

One of the most alarming indicators that climate change will alter life on Earth was announced last month by two separate studies of the West Antarctic ice sheet.

Researchers at the University of Washington and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena arrived at similar conclusions.

The scientists found that warming oceans are causing an unstoppable chain reaction in melting the ice shelf and glaciers, threatening 10 percent of Antarctica's total land ice volume. The scientists say that kind of melting could raise sea levels by as much as 15 feet in the next several hundred years.

NASA has posted a handy primer on the "Unstable" West Antarctic Ice Sheet.

Click on the video below to see an animation of the process that scientists say is leading to the melting of glaciers in West Antartica.

Video

Runaway Glaciers in West Antarctica

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