the west antarctic ice sheet and marine ice sheet instability

Today's New York Times highlighted the potential retreat of the Pine Island and Thwaites Glaciers. I immediately got some inquiries from friends about this, and, conveniently, one of my students just gave a nice presentation on this exact subject for her final class presentation.

Please visit this page, which has her presentation as text and video.

These particular glaciers are not ones that I study, but I am studying similar questions on other glaciers, such as those that fed the Larsen B ice shelf, which disintegrated in 2002.

The potential of instability for glaciers and ice sheets that sit on the ocean floor has been known for a long time - thanks to John Mercer back in 1978. But many in the glaciological community have been hesitant to express the real potential too loudly for fear of it being heard as "the sky is falling". The more data we get, the less we are willing to stay quiet about it. So I am happy these papers by Drs. Eric Rignot, Ian Joughin and others highlighted by the New York Times and people are starting to discuss the future.

 Photo by NASA

Photo by NASA