Scientists Confirm E Antarctica’s Biggest Glacier Is Melting From Below

"Earlier this year, we learned some worrisome climate news. Although Antarctic scientists have been most concerned about loss of ice in the western part of Antarctica, a study in Nature Geoscience suggested a vulnerability in the much larger ice sheet of East Antarctica, as well.

East Antarctica’s enormous Totten Glacier, you see, has a key similarity with the glaciers of West Antarctica — namely, it is rooted deep below sea level. This means that it is potentially exposed to warm ocean waters, and the study in March uncovered a deep and 5-kilometer wide subsea valley beneath the glacier’s oceanfront ice shelf that, the authors said, could be a route for warm offshore water to reach its base. This might explain why the glacier has been observed to be thinning and lowering, or losing elevation, over time, they noted.

Located along East Antarctica’s Sabrina Coast, Totten glacier is the ice sheet’s largest. It holds back 3.9 meters of potential sea level rise, or over 12 feet, and connects with the very deep and vast Aurora Subglacial Basin, which is also rooted well below sea level. So the results were treated as being of enormous consequence."

Chris Mooney reports for the Washington Post October 26, 2015.

Source: Wash Post, 10/28/2015