Smart Stuff with Twig Walkingstick: Antarctic Melting? ... Melting? (for the Week of Jan. 20, 2008)

January 20, 2008

Q. Dear Twig: ‘Arctic ice' this, ‘Arctic ice' that. What's going on with the ice in Antarctica?

A. In the past 10 years, the East Antarctic ice sheet, one of Antarctica's two main ice sheets, has stayed about the same in size. (The East sheet rests on land.)

But the West Antarctic ice sheet, the other big one, has been losing ice and losing it faster and faster. (The bed of the West sheet rests well below sea level.)

A new study says in the past 10 years, overall Antarctic ice loss has risen by 75 percent.

Why care? Because too much melting, among other things, will make the oceans go up. The homes and cities of millions of people — those who live in low coastal areas — could flood.

"Large uncertainties [things we don't know for sure yet] remain in predicting Antarctica's future contribution to sea level rise," said the leader of the study, a NASA scientist named Eric Rignot. "Ice sheets are responding faster to climate warming than anticipated."

What do you think about this?

Moistly,

Twig

P.S. Read more at http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/antarctica-20080123.html .

Notes: The study was done by NASA and university scientists. It appears in the February 2008 issue of the journal Nature GeoScience. The link is to a NASA story about the study. Additional sources included "Escalating Ice Loss Found in Antarctica," Washington Post, Jan. 14, 2008, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/01/13/AR2008011302753.html?hpid=topnews ; an online discussion about the Washington Post story at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/discussion/2008/01/13/DI2008011301886.html ; and "Antarctica's Ice Melting Faster" in the newspaper The Australian, Jan.15, 2008, http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,23053212-11949,00.html .

"Smart Stuff with Twig Walkingstick," published by The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences -- specifically, by the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) and Ohio State University Extension, the research and outreach arms, respectively, of the College -- is a weekly column for children about science, nature, farming and the environment. It's written at a 4th-grade reading level. For details, to ask Twig a question, and/or to receive the column free by mail or e-mail, contact Kurt Knebusch, CommTech, OSU/OARDC,1680 Madison Ave., Wooster, OH 44691, knebusch.1@osu.edu, (330) 263-3776. Online at http://extension.osu.edu/~news/archive.php?series=science.

Author(s): 
Kurt Knebusch