The most challenging impacts that project environment change depend upon the rise of sea-level. The East Antarctic ice sheet is one of the two large ice sheets in Antarctica and the largest on the entire planet.
Study finds out that this ice sheet may contribute substantially to global sea level rise. The ice sheet, which is more than 12,000 feet thick, was once supposed to be the most stable one, with no gaining or losing of mass even as other ice sheets were shrinking.
The studies, however, showed that the ice sheet had always been expanding and shrinking.
The study, which is based on the first-ever oceanographic survey of East Antarctica’s Sabrina Coast, disclosed that the glaciers of the East Antarctic region are mainly vulnerable to climate change.
This is predominantly because they flow from the Aurora Basin which has been stable for the past few million years. If the ice sheet in the Basin melted, the rise of global sea-level would inch higher by 3-5 meters (10-15 feet).
Sean Gulick, professor at the University of Texas, Austin, said, “It turns out that for much of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet’s history, it was not the commonly perceived large stable ice sheet with only minor changes in size over millions of years.”
“Rather, we have evidence for a very dynamic ice sheet that grew and shrank significantly between glacial and interglacial periods. There were also often long intervals of open water along the Sabrina Coast, with limited glacial influence,” he added.
The study is published in the journal Nature.
For this study, the team organized marine seismic technology which captured images of the seabed, including geological formations formed by the ice sheet, which allowed the scientists to rebuild how glaciers in the area have advanced and retreated in the past 50 million years.
As per the data, ice advanced from the Aurora Basin and retreated back again at least 11 times during the first 20 million years of the ice sheet’s history.