Spain-Sized Glacier Presents Rising Global Sea Level Risk, Scientists Say

Scientists studying a Spain-sized glacier in Antarctica said on March 20 that more of it was floating on the ocean than previously believed. They warned it could melt faster as the climate warms and raise global sea levels by as much as three metres.

Discussing their summer expedition, Dr Ben Galton-Fenzi said the Totten Glacier was one of the most important glaciers in the world due to the sheer potential of water it could unleash. Researchers, who used seismic waves to see through the ice, found the glacier was resting on water as opposed to Antarctic bedrock. The underbelly of the icy monolith was already compromised by warming oceans and without a solid foundation melting and disintegration would occur at a faster rate.

“Since the 1900s the global sea-level has risen by around 20 centimetres and by the end of the century it’s projected to rise by up to one metre or more, but this is subject to high uncertainty, which is why studying glaciers such as the Totten is important,” Galton-Fenzi said.

“These precise measurements of Totten Glacier are vital to monitoring changes and understanding them in the context of natural variations and the research is an important step in assessing the potential impact on sea-level under various future scenarios.” Credit: Australian Antarctic Division via Storyful