Climatologists have discovered that West Antarctica is warming TWICE as fast as they previously thought it was.
This unexpectedly big increase adds to fears the ice sheet will thaw, causing the sea level to rise and drown coastal cities all over the world. West Antarctica holds enough ice to raise world sea levels by 11 feet if it ever all melted, although this is a process that would take centuries (allowing us time to prepare?) In addition to offering a more complete picture of warming in West Antarctica, the new study shows for the first time that significant melt is occurring during the summer.
Geologist Andrew Monaghan says, "Our results indicate that temperature increases during the past half century have been almost twice what we previously thought, placing West Antarctica among the fastest warming regions on Earth. A growing body of research shows that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is changing at an alarming rate, with pressure coming from both a warming ocean and a warming atmosphere"–and drowning cities. Low-lying nations from Bangladesh to Tuvalu are especially vulnerable to sea level rise, as are coastal cities from London to Buenos Aires.