In early 2002, a Manhattan-sized chunk of ice broke off the Larsen Ice Shelf in Antarctica. The 200-meter-thick ice disintegrated into the ocean a short time later. In 1995, a 770 square mile ice section also broke away and disintegrated from the Larsen Ice Shelf.
These events have alarmed climatologists, geologists, and environmental scientists, wondering if we are headed to an ice-free Antarctica. It is speculated that if all the ice in Antarctica melts, this would cause global sea level rises, so high that New York City would be inundated up the level of the Statue of Liberty’s shoulders.
An easy way to understand sea level rise is to place a drinking glass on your table, fill it with enough ice cubes so that they stick out from the rim of the glass, and then fill the glass with water just below 1cm from the rim. As you stare at the glass, everything will appear stable. But as the ice responds to the room temperature, it will slowly melt, and the meltwater will increase the volume of the existing water causing it to rise. About an hour or two later, your ice would have completely melted leaving you with a small pool of water surrounding the base of the glass. Simply visualize this on a larger scale; think of the ice cubes as large Antarctic ice shelves, the water in the glass as ocean water, and like the ice cubes responding to the room temperature, think of the Antarctic ice shelves responding to the global climate temperature. The table can act like coastal cities, with the rising water flooding them. The photo give a perspective on how big Antarctica is compared the U.S.
This video focuses on the efforts of ANDRILL, a geological drilling project with a collaboration of scientists who seek to understand the paleo-environmental changes in Antartica from rock cores, which may yield clues for the future.