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Scientists Stunned by Antarctic Rainfall and a Melt Area Bigger Than Texas

June 15, 2017.  Chris Mooney of The Washington Post reports:  

Scientists have documented a recent, massive melt event on the surface of highly vulnerable West Antarctica that, they fear, could be a harbinger of future events as the planet continues to warm.

In the Antarctic summer of 2016, the surface of the Ross Ice Shelf, the largest floating ice platform on Earth, developed a sheet of meltwater that lasted for as long as 15 days in some places. The total area affected by melt was 300,000 square miles, or larger than the state of Texas, the scientists report.

That’s bad news because surface melting could work hand in hand with an already documented trend of ocean-driven melting to compromise West Antarctica, which contains over 10 feet of potential sea level rise.

“It provides us with a possible glimpse of the future,” said David Bromwich, an Antarctic expert at Ohio State University and one of the study’s authors. The paper appeared in Nature Communications.  

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