Clean Energy Expands Southern California LNG Truck Fueling Infrastructure
Fiat to Preview Turbo Two-Cylinder Twin-Air at Geneva Show; Natural Gas and Hybrid Applications to Come

USGS Study Finds Ice Shelves Retreating on Antarctic Peninsula

Ice shelves are retreating in the southern section of the Antarctic Peninsula due to changes in global climate, according to a newly study published by the US Geological Survey, prepared in cooperation with the British Antarctic Survey, the Scott Polar Research Institute, and the Bundesamt für Kartographie und Geodäsie. This retreat could result in glacier retreat and sea-level rise if warming continues, threatening coastal communities and low-lying islands worldwide.

Ice-front retreat in part of the southern Antarctic Peninsula from 1947 to 2009. Source: USGS. Click to enlarge.

The research is the first to document that every ice front in the southern part of the Antarctic Peninsula has been retreating overall from 1947 to 2009, with the most dramatic changes occurring since 1990. The USGS previously documented that the majority of ice fronts on the entire Peninsula have also retreated during the late 20th century and into the early 21st century.

Antarctica is Earth’s largest reservoir of glacial ice. Melting of the West Antarctic part alone of the Antarctic ice sheet would cause a sea-level rise of approximately 6 meters (m), and the potential sea-level rise after melting of the entire Antarctic ice sheet is estimated to be 65 m (Lythe and others, 2001) to 73 m (Williams and Hall, 1993). The mass balance (the net volumetric gain or loss) of the Antarctic ice sheet is highly complex, responding differently to different climatic and other conditions in each region (Vaughan, 2005).

In a review paper, Rignot and Thomas (2002) concluded that the West Antarctic ice sheet is probably becoming thinner overall; although it is known to be thickening in the west, it is thinning in the north. The mass balance of the East Antarctic ice sheet is thought by Davis and others (2005) to be positive on the basis of the change in satellite-altimetry measurements made between 1992 and 2003.

—Ferrigno et al.

The ice shelves are attached to the continent and already floating, holding in place the Antarctic ice sheet that covers about 98% of the Antarctic continent. As the ice shelves break off, it is easier for outlet glaciers and ice streams from the ice sheet to flow into the sea. The transition of that ice from land to the ocean is what raises sea level.

This research is part of a larger ongoing USGS project that is for the first time studying the entire Antarctic coastline in detail, and this is important because the Antarctic ice sheet contains 91 percent of Earth’s glacier ice. The loss of ice shelves is evidence of the effects of global warming. We need to be alert and continually understand and observe how our climate system is changing

—USGS scientist Jane Ferrigno

The Peninsula is one of Antarctica’s most rapidly changing areas because it is farthest away from the South Pole, and its ice shelf loss may be a forecast of changes in other parts of Antarctica and the world if warming continues.

Retreat along the southern part of the Peninsula is of particular interest because that area has the Peninsula’s coolest temperatures, demonstrating that global warming is affecting the entire length of the Peninsula.

The Antarctic Peninsula’s southern section as described in this study contains five major ice shelves: Wilkins, George VI, Bach, Stange and the southern portion of Larsen Ice Shelf. The ice lost since 1998 from the Wilkins Ice Shelf alone totals more than 4,000 square kilometers, an area larger than the state of Rhode Island.

The research is part of the USGS Glacier Studies Project, which is monitoring and describing glacier extent and change over the whole planet using satellite imagery.




"Rignot and Thomas (2002) concluded that the West Antarctic ice sheet is probably becoming thinner overall; although it is known to be thickening in the west, it is thinning in the north

Arghhh. Of course the whole continent has GROWN 4-5% since the start of satellite measures in the late 70s. I shall leave it to Goracle to describe the pollo sin cabeza effect this elicits.



Oh dear ai_vin has fallen on such desperate times he is now citing a blogger from a four year old Grist grist blog as his expert on climate science.

Mr. Coby Beck describes himself thusly:

"Former musician, turned tree planter, turned software engineer. Same old story... I have been blogging about climate change since 2006 at A Few Things Ill Considered."

He then pronounces with a total absence of irony: "The growth in the East Antarctic ice sheet indicated by some evidence is so small, and the evidence itself so uncertain, the sheet may well be shrinking."

It's the entire satellite record since it began bozo! ai_vin I am shocked. You used to be more competent.

PS - it's not all false that he is the nephew of famed right winger Glenn Beck.

Aaron Turpen

sulleny - Glenn Beck believes in global warming now. Didn't you see the release? He announced it at the conservative yadda yadda caucus thingee the other day. (it's the truth, not a joke)

Now that I've got that cleared up, I've gone through this post again and don't see the word "car," "vehicle," or "truck" anywhere in it. So what does this have to do with Green CAR Congress again?

Exactly. Nadda.



It's not desperation, just boredom. The simple truth is today I can't be bothered to give you the effort it would take to type out an explaination I know you're just going to ignore.

richard schumacher

Someone who refuses to understand that increased ice *surface area* can be consistent with decreased ice *volume and mass* is not likely to have any worthwhile opinions on the matter.


NASA reports overall Antarctic volume and area extent has increased 4-5% since records began late 70s.

Phil Jones former high climate guru CRU, says no statistical warming since 1995.

Dr. Judith Curry Georgia Tech Climate Chair and scientist says climate scientists woefully ill-equipped for reality.

AGW dead in water and land, 2010. RIP


Phil Jones former high climate guru CRU, says no statistical warming since 1995.

Ok, first;



Fourth; Dr. Judith Curry would NOT agree with you that 'AGW is dead in water.' She's on our side and the "reality" she refers to is that climate skeptics have to be engaged in conversation if they are to be countered.


ai_vin, I am encouraged to see your dedication to alarmist agitprop has not entirely withered. Dr. Curry has been taken to the woodshed over the last several days by her own teammates (Romm) and the skeptics.

At least she is attempting to engage the mass of people who "succeed in bringing the climate establishment to its knees (whether or not the climate establishment realizes yet that this has happened)?" Dr. Curry

Of course corruption this deeply imbued in the soul of the establishment - is nearly impossible to face. Because it has become their constitution, and hubris, pride and grandiosity block certain people from rigorous honesty.

And now, yet another prime leader of the Alarmist Clan gets thrown under the bus. IPCC Chairman and Chief rail engineer to global warming, Dr. R. Pachauri is being investigated by his own UNEP Governing Council.

Considering the $3M in grants he took from the EU taxpayer to study the phony Himalaya "glacier melt" - it is none to soon for his departure. RIP AGW.


There is a difference between skeptics; and denialists; Skeptics can be reasoned with, denialists can't be.

Dr. Judith Curry; wants to talk to the skeptics, the problem other climate scientists have with that is they've been dealing with denialists.


Would you kindly speak to the corruption of key alarmists? Is it right to demand Pachauri return the taxpayer money he conned them out of??



Sorry about that but I got bored again.

The comments to this entry are closed.