Coming soon to a beach near you

The incoming tide of meltwater

Featured in

  • Published 20220427
  • ISBN: 978-1-922212-74-0
  • Extent: 264pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm), eBook

IN THE ROOM with pictures of Antarctica on the walls the scientists sit around the table and talk about how fast the Antarctic ice sheets are going to melt as our planet warms. They talk about thinning ice, retreating grounding lines, hydrofracturing and basal friction. They talk about the warming ocean circulating in cavities beneath the ice sheets like subterranean rivers in a deep cave system. They talk about polynya deep-­water formation and subglacial melt discharge and they trust me with their words and I catch them and collect them and write them down.

When they talk about marine ice-­cliff instability, or MICI, they argue. Some scientists say that when the cliff of a melting glacier gets too high it will collapse into the ocean and float away. When it collapses it will reveal a new cliff, which will also collapse. And so on. Before long the glacier will be gone and the sea will rise from all that melted Antarctic ice. One of the scientists says we don’t understand enough about MICI to include it in the models that predict future Antarctic ice melt. ‘Are you taking the mickey?’ says Nick, and everyone laughs.

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