Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

The Melting Antarctic Glacier That Could Flood the World

Credit: Alessandro Silvano

Credit: Alessandro Silvano

By Alessandro Silvano & Steve Rintoul

A scientific voyage has revealed startlingly warm waters around a glacier in East Antarctica that could raise global sea levels by 4 metres.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Antarctica is remote, but small changes here can have global consequences. However, direct measurements in this harsh and remote place are hard to get. As a consequence, how changes in Antarctica affect the rest of the world is still not well understood. This is especially true in East Antarctica, where the great distance from inhabited areas makes scientific campaigns even harder. Large sectors of the East Antarctic coast remains unexplored.

In December 2014 scientists on board the Australian icebreaker Aurora Australis managed for the first time to reach the front of the largest glacier in East Antarctica, the Totten Glacier. Heavy sea-ice had blocked previous attempts to reach the glacier, but this time things went differently. A change in winds opened a window of open water just in front of the glacier.

The captain and the crew of the Aurora Australis immediately took advantage of this rare chance and drove the ship through a narrow pathway to the glacier (Fig...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.