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Global warming reaches the coldest place on Earth, East Antarctic ice sheet breaks off: report

conger glacier ice shelf

The East Antarctic ice sheet is big enough to raise sea levels by 52m (170 ft) and it was sought to be stable until now. However, experts recently analysed dozens of satellite images and found that the ice shelves are beginning to melt.

Jan Lieser, a glaciologist at the University of Tasmania's Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, found a gap in the Conger glacier's ice shelf in March 2022. A piece of the ice sheet has broken off and formed an iceberg the size of Vienna. He found it more concerning that the whole event of breaking up and drifting away took place in mere 10 days. As someone who has been keeping a close eye on the ice shelf, he did not expect to see it disintegrate so quickly.

"All of a sudden the rest of the land-fast ice collapsed, and the ice shelf moved northward and turned 90 degrees sideways. Two features we had been monitoring for years weren't there anymore. In my 15 years of looking at it, I have not expected to see that in East Antarctica," he told the BBC.

The broken part of the glacier is dangerous because it will rub up against islands, underwater ridges, and other glaciers.

It also has significant implications for sea level rise. Ice shelves are considered to be safety bands among experts. But, when they break up, the glaciers drift faster into the sea and contribute to sea level rise.

Scientists are worried that the Conger glacier is the first ice shelf on record to collapse in East Antarctica. Experts have long considered the ice sheet of West Antarctica to have reached a tipping point but the eastern counterpart was thought to be safe as it is the coldest place on Earth. It was also considered to be resistant to global warming.

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TAGS:global warming Conger glacier ice shelf East Antarctic ice sheet 
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