Natalia Welzenbach-Marcu | April 3rd, 2018
Underwater ice melt from the Antarctic is one of the largest contributors to rising sea levels.
Viewed from above, the Antarctic seems stable and safe, with the ice cap changing little in the past few years. Down near the ocean floor, however, the change is a lot more drastic. Small increases in temperature have melted away the bottom of the ice, sometimes as much as around five meters per year.
Between 2010 and 2016 specifically, around 1,463 km2 of the ice along the ocean floor has melted.
The stability of glaciers and ice formations are often measured with grounding lines–a valuable resource for scientists researching sea-level rise. Grounding lines, in short, indicate where glaciers transition from being grounded in the ocean floor to the levels at which glaciers start to free-float in the water.
The grounding line is more accurately described as a zone, and changes in the grounding line are intrinsically linked with changes in sea levels. As ocean temperatures rise, grounding lines specifically are often melted away, a change that makes icebergs increasingly unstable and susceptible to thinning and calving (when sections of ice break away from the larger mass). All of these changes contribute to sea-level rise and put the ocean and the humans living by it in further danger.