The glaciers along the Southern Antarctic Peninsula were believed to be stable between 2003 and 2009. However, new satellite observations reveal that the area suffered a sudden destabilization in 2009 and the change in conditions is now responsible for the melting of glaciers. It is believed that these glaciers are now shedding around 56 billion metric tons of ice annually which is enough to raise sea water levels by roughly 0.16 millimeters.
The research points out that the warm ocean water is melting the underside of the ice which is undermining the region’s stability and causing the sudden decline. And the conditions are supposed to be so bad that even if the warm ocean water goes away, the ice will continue to melt until a new equilibrium is reached.
The report says that, “The melting and weakening of ice shelves reduce their buttressing effect, allowing the glaciers to flow more quickly to the sea.” This is quite scary considering the rate at which it will contribute to the rise in sea levels.