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Scientists have discovered damage to two major Antarctic glaciers through satellite imagery, according to a new study.

Researchers from the US and several other countries published a study Monday that found two of the fastest-changing glaciers in Antarctica, the Pine Island Glacier and Thwaites Glacier, have developed “crevasses and open fractures,” which show “signs of their structural weakening.

“These damage areas consist of highly crevassed areas and open fractures and are first signs that the shear zones of both ice shelves have structurally weakened over the past decade,” researchers wrote in the abstract.

Decadeslong changes in atmospheric and oceanic conditions have caused sea levels to rise due to melting glaciers. Pine Island Glacier and Thwaites Glacier are responsible for about 5 percent of global sea-level rise, according to the study.

Damage evolution in Amundsen Sea Embayment.Stef Lhermitte et al.

“Both glaciers show distinct changes in recent decades driven by changing atmospheric and oceanic conditions that cause enhanced ocean-induced melting of their floating ice shelves,” researchers said.

The global sea level has been rising at a rate of about 1.4 inches per year, according to The Science Times.

If both glaciers break down, “a lot of neighboring areas would also fall apart, causing a widespread collapse” and a significant rise in sea levels, Indrani Das, a research professor for the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration and Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University, told the outlet.

Elevation and thinning rates over PIG area.Stef Lhermitte et al.

Damage evolution started around 1999 for the Pine Island Glacier and damage evolution for the Thwaites Glacier started around 2000 but “moved farther upstream” around 2016, satellite imagery shows.

The glaciers’ “shear zones,” or areas of severe deformation, have increased about 30% since 1992 and the fastest increase occurred between 2000 and 2010.

Researchers concluded that it is impossible for the glaciers to completely collapse in the near future because surface-level melting is so little, but damage in shear zones “makes them vulnerable to enhanced mass loss and grounding line retreat.”

Filed under antarctica ,  climate change ,  environment ,  nature ,  satellites ,  9/16/20

News Source: New York Post

Tags: antarctica climate change environment nature satellites thwaites glacier

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Snowmelt caused by global warming reveals mummified penguins and hundreds of bones that were hidden for 5,000 YEARS under ice in Antarctica

Global warming has revealed mummified remains of Adélie penguins that have laid hidden under the ice in Antarctica for more than 5,000 years. 

Steven Emslie, a professor at the University of North Carolina, was studying Cape Irizar just south of the Drygalski Ice Tongue on the Scott Coast, when he and his team stumbled upon hundreds of preserved bones, feathers and bodies.

'We saw at least half a dozen whole or disarticulated carcasses and mummies, and hundreds of bones and feathers on the surface with fresh appearing guano stains, he told DailyMail.com.

'The radiocarbon dates showed at least three occupations in the past, beginning over 5,000 years ago, with the last one ending about 800 years ago at the start of the Little Ice Age.'  

The fresh excrement stains suggests recent use of the site, but there are no records of an active penguin colony at this site since the first explorer, Robert Falcon Scott, came to Ross Sea over 100 years ago. 

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Global warming has revealed mummified (pictured is a mummified penguin dating back more than 800 years)  remains of Adélie penguins that have laid hidden under the ice in Antarctica for more than 5,000 years

'I went to this particular site at the end of the 2016 field season and was surprised by all the fresh-looking remains on the surface,' Emslie shared in an email.

'Very unusual for a place that has never been reported to have an active penguin colony.'

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Emslie and his colleagues collected some of these surface remains for further analysis, noticing some had been recently disturbed due to an active colony in the area.

'The remains were all Adélie penguins and I have been studying their past remains, abandoned breeding sites, and how they respond to climate change,' Emslie shared in an email.

Researchers were studying Cape Irizar (pictured) just south of the Drygalski Ice Tongue on the Scott Coast when they stumbled upon hundreds of preserved bones, feathers and bodies

'I went to this particular site at the end of the 2016 field season and was surprised by all the fresh-looking remains on the surface.'   

While investigating the cape, the team also found pebble mounds that were former nesting sites for these penguins. 

'We excavated into three of these mounds, using methods similar to archaeologists, to recover preserved tissues of penguin bone, feather, and eggshell, as well as hard parts of prey from the guano (fish bones, otoliths),' Emslie explained.

The fresh excrement stains (pictured) suggests recent use of the site, but there are no records of an active penguin colony at this site since the first explorer, Robert Falcon Scott, came to Ross Sea over 100 years ago

'The soil was very dry and dusty, just as I've found at other very old sites I've worked on in the Ross Sea, and also had abundant penguin remains in them.

'Overall, our sampling recovered a mixture of old and what appeared to be recent penguin remains implying multiple periods of occupation and abandonment of this cape over thousands of years.'

'In all the years I have been doing this research in Antarctica, I've never seen a site quite like this.'

Emslie recently published a paper in Geology highlighting his work, which shows at least three occupation periods of the cape by breeding penguins, with the last one ending at about 800 years ago. 

Pictured is an active Adélie colony in the Ross Sea. The team speculates the last occupation abandoned the site due to increasing snow cover, leaving behind the remains that were covered in snow and ice and preserved intact until recent exposure from snowmelt

He speculates the last occupation abandoned the site due to increasing snow cover, leaving behind the remains that were covered in snow and ice and preserved intact until recent exposure from snowmelt.

Global warming has increased the annual temperature in the Ross Sea from 34 degrees to 36.6 degrees Fahrenheit since the 1980s, and satellite imagery over the past decade shows the cape gradually emerging from under the snow.  

'This recent snowmelt revealing long-preserved remains that were frozen and buried until now is the best explanation for the jumble of penguin remains of different ages that we found there,' Emlise explained.

Read more:
  • Ancient Adélie penguin colony revealed by snowmelt at Cape Irizar, Ross Sea, Antarctica | Geology | GeoScienceWorld

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