February 4 - 13, 2020. If Antarctica melts then all coastal cities will be submerged to a depth of 60 metres (200 feet). Global sea levels have risen 0.55 inches since 2003 due to ice melt in Antarctica and Greenland driven by climate change according to new data measurements from several NASA satellites. Now, imagine the ice melts. join us with a tax-deductible donation today. This will cause sea levels to rise by about 60 m (180 feet) globally. Yes, the water below this block pushes up on the water above it (the original block of water). By Marty Downs. The best part is that you can change any of my estimates. It should still push on it in the same way it interacted when there was a block of water. But our coastlines would be very different. What Would Happen If All the Antarctic Ice Melted? What would happen to the world's coastlines if the West Antarctic Ice Sheet melted, raising global sea levels by as much as 20 feet? Why does this even matter? Antarctica’s ice is melting fast. OK, now I'm going to reveal my favorite tool for calculations like this—python. The Antarctic ice sheet has lost more than 2,500 billion tonnes of ice in the past 25 years and nearly half of that has happened since 2012. The answer is more water. It's because I grew up with this Mercator projection map. “The more this marine ice sheet instability occurs, the wider the range of possible future sea level rise becomes,” Robel says. Note, physicists like to use the Greek letter ρ to represent density. If all the ice covering Antarctica, Greenland, and in mountain glaciers around the world were to melt, sea level would rise about 70 meters (230 feet). The breakthroughs and innovations that we uncover lead to new ways of thinking, new connections, and new industries. In fact in most parts of the continent it never gets above freezing. The simple answer is no. There's no way I would have guessed it's that thick. You can take a small section of the water in the middle of the cup and look at the forces acting on it. What happens if Antarctica melts? Honestly, it's not my fault. So you see how bad this could be. Ice has a density of 920 kg/m3 compared to liquid water of 1,000 kg/m3 because H2O is super weird in that the density decreases when it freezes. Known as East Antarctica, this section has an average altitude of about 2 kilometer (1.2 miles), higher than the American Colorado Plateau. The Antarctic as a whole contains about 90 percent of the planet’s ice — enough in theory to raise global sea levels an average of ... accelerated their slide to the sea by 5 to 8 times. I won't be offended (or even know). If all the ice covering Antarctica , Greenland, and in mountain glaciers around the world were to melt, sea level would rise about 70 meters (230 feet). February 13, 2020JPEG. A large area of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is also losing mass, probably because of warmer water deep in the ocean near the Antarctic coast. East Antarctica is much higher in elevation than West Antarctica. I know this might seem crazy, but it's because of the gravitational force. I feel better now. Well, fine as an estimation—not fine as the disaster it would cause. In the case of this metal block, that buoyancy force would not be enough to keep it floating and it would sink—but that buoyancy force would still be there. The central and southern parts of the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula have warmed by about 2.4 °C. Another Hypothetical Nuking Scenario! If both ice sheets melted, the global sea level would rise by about 68m. Thermometers at the Esperanza Base on the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula reached 18.3°C (64.9°F)—around the same temperature as Los Angeles that day. But now the glaciers and ice shelves in this frigid region are showing signs of melting, a development that portends dramatic rises in sea levels this century and beyond. Antarctica Melts Under Its Hottest Days on Record. And things are looking pretty bad. National Geographic has a good interactive map showing what 216 feet of sea level rise will do to coastlines around the world. First of all, who nukes Antarctica? First and foremost, ifthis happens, our sea level will rise by 60 meters, due to which all the coastal areas willbecome the peak of flood, then be it New York, Sydney and even Mumbai. What happens when the roof of the world melts? Now for the bad part. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our User Agreement (updated 1/1/20) and Privacy Policy and Cookie Statement (updated 1/1/20) and Your California Privacy Rights. So, what is the surface area of Earth's ocean's? To revist this article, visit My Profile, then View saved stories. 2. Nothing changes. I didn't take into account the loss of land surface area that gets flooded by the rising seas. Why does stuff float? There's one other tough thing to estimate—the average depth of the ice sheet at the South Pole. Two-thirds of Antarctica is a high, cold desert. Robel, along with scientists Helene Seroussi and Gerard Roe used mathematical analysis and computer models to make projections of sea levels in the future. I'm going to keep the measurements in units of meters just to make things easier going forward. But Antarctica is still a juggernaut. We call this upward pushing force from the water the buoyancy force. Log in, register or subscribe to save articles for later. The “what if the suns goes out” question is at the same level of fantasy and fancy as the “what-if Antarctica melts” question. What would happen if the Antarctic ice sheets melted along with the rest of the ice on Earth? Antarctica's Thwaites glacier is in peril, images reveal. The whole world will never be underwater. It blows huge drifts of snow into the camp, swamping the equipment, and all the work stops. Now, what if I replace this water block with a metal block of the exact same size? See—now we've made a connection between something you don't really have a feeling for to something you might be familiar with. Let's say it has a width of width of around 3,000 miles (4,800 km). Well, heck. Antarctica’s ice is melting fast. The magnitude of this force can be calculated as the product of the mass (of the block of water) and the gravitational field (g = 9.8 Newtons per kilogram on the surface of the Earth). However, in this case, I really don't have a feeling for the size of the Antarctic ice cap. For this surface area, about 70 percent is water (which is crazy if you think about it). By the time all the ice cap in Antarctica disappears, most likely, all the ice in the Arctic such as the vast ice cap in Greenland also would be gone. So, how far is it across the US? Inexpensive, too! USA? Originally Answered: If all of the ice now stored in Antarctica's glaciers melted, what would happen? Greenland and Antarctica are currently both pushed downwards by the weight of the ice on top. But since it's floating, it will displace a volume of water that would have an equal mass as the ice. ✨ Optimize your home life with our Gear team’s best picks, from. The ocean would cover all the coastal cities. Melting Antarctic ice will raise sea levels and might cause humanity to 'give up ... New York' The research notes that if temperatures rise 2 degrees Celsius, ocean levels will rise 8 feet The great ice sheets covering Antarctica and Greenland have enough frozen water locked in them to raise the global sea level by some 70 metres. This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. Using this, I can find the volume of the melted water (using density = mass/volume). The cause is not known. The material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except with the prior written permission of Condé Nast. We're a nonprofit (so it's tax-deductible), and reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget. And land area would shrink significantly. As ice sheets there collapse—a process some scientists now see as irreversible—global sea level could rise 10 feet. Tonight, our friends at VICE will kick off their third season of documentaries on HBO, and they’re headed to Antarctica to get a close-up look at the potentially catastrophic changes underway there. Now the melted ice (so, the new water) occupies the same volume of water that the ice cube displaced. USA? Antarctica is also volcanically active which contributes to some of the ice loss. How much water is there, and how much would the sea level rise? If all the ice on Earth melted overnight, the planet would be sent into chaos. Thermometers at the Esperanza Base on the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula reached 18.3°C (64.9°F)—around the same temperature as Los Angeles that day. But this volume of ice doesn't translate directly to the same volume of sea level rise. Antarctica seems to be both warming around the edges and cooling at the center at the same time. What the world would look like if all the ice melts. I already looked at the page and I see that the average ice thickness is 1.9 km. East Antarctica is much higher in elevation than West Antarctica. In the meantime, Antarctica would resemble a mountainous archipelago like Australasia, and Greenland would be a central bowl below sea level, defended by a ring of mountains. Yes, I did all of this with some very short python code. Theoretically, if that happens continent-wide, points out Eric Rignot, a glaciologist at the University of California, Irvine, it would raise sea levels by 13 feet per century. Go back to the melting ice in a glass of water. The ocean would cover all the coastal cities. Save. Another Hypothetical Nuking Scenario! Nanotechnology Expert Explains One Concept in 5 Levels of Difficulty. Save. February 4, 2020JPEG. The ticking time bomb for sea-level rise is buried in the glaciers of Antarctica The total water level in the glass will stay the same as a block of ice melts (assuming there wasn't any evaporation). It … let's just say it would not be good. Nanotechnology researcher Dr. George S. Tulevski is asked to explain the concept of nanotechnology to 5 different people; a child, a teen, a college student, a grad student, and an expert. To get a rough estimation of the size of Antarctica, we think of it as a circle with a diameter equal to the width of the United States. A new paper explores what will happen to the southernmost continent if we curb carbon emissions — or do nothing. This would actually decrease the sea level rise, as it would have a greater area to spread out. In this episode of Climate Now, we take a closer look at melting ice and rising sea levels, to understand what's really happening at the poles as the planet warms. WIRED is where tomorrow is realized. Thus it is not possible to say whether it is warming or cooling overall. November 7, 2013 — 12.22am. What would happen to the world's coastlines if the West Antarctic Ice Sheet melted, raising global sea levels by as much as 20 feet? A new paper explores what will happen to the southernmost continent if we curb carbon emissions — or do nothing. February 13, 2020JPEG. If all of the Antarctic ice melted, sea levels around the world would rise about 61 meters (200 feet). So now we can visualize this ice sheet as a giant cylinder—maybe more like a hockey-puck-shaped cylinder. East Antarctica is the coldest spot on earth, long thought to be untouched by warming. Note that this is just an approximation. Aliens? Imagine that you have a glass of water without any motion in the cup (no currents). Log in, register or subscribe to save articles for later. Animated map shows what would happen to Asia if all the Earth's ice melted. I can calculate the volume as the area of the base (a circle) multiplied by the height. A special section in the October issue of BioScience examines the effects of a single season of intense melting on two Antarctic ecosystems, tracking impacts all the way from microbial food webs to shifting penguin populations.. And no, there are not aliens or Nazi bunkers under the ice... that I know of. So what would happen if the global temperature increased enough to melt the ice cap in Antarctica? Wired may earn a portion of sales from products that are purchased through our site as part of our Affiliate Partnerships with retailers. By signing up, you'll get thousands of step-by-step solutions to your homework questions. If the meltwater remains close to its source (by being trapped in a glacier lake, for example), then there is no net movement of mass away from the glacier or ice sheet, and the Earth’s rotation won’t change. February 4, 2020JPEG. Larger Image The Antarctic ice sheet. It won’t happen overnight, but if we don’t slow the warming of the planet, it could happen within decades. First of all, who nukes Antarctica? These conclusions are obviously speculative because nobody really knows how long it would take for all the ice to melt or what the ultimate effects would be. There is a continent … The WIRED conversation illuminates how technology is changing every aspect of our lives—from culture to business, science to design. These conclusions are obviously speculative because nobody really knows how long it would take for all the ice to melt or what the ultimate effects would be. There's no question that we (the humans) have been putting a whole bunch of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and this carbon dioxide is changing the climate. In the West Antarctic Peninsula, 2001-2002 atmospheric conditions resulted in thicker sea ice compacted against the edge of the peninsula, with increased melting at the edge releasing large quantities of fresh water and ice algae directly into the upper mixed layer of the ocean. Actually, just over the oceans. A study recently published in the scientific journal Nature discusses what may happen as a result of our record-low global sea ice. Yay, let’s roll! M elting ice sheets in the Antarctic, particularly one of the largest and unstable glaciers in the region, could significantly accelerate global sea level rise, according to a new report. Copyright © 2020 Mother Jones and the Foundation for National Progress. Russia? I can calculate the surface area of this sphere. Normally, I would do a traditional "back of the envelope" estimation and just get approximate values for stuff. msn back to msn home news. What about the Arctic polar cap? All Rights Reserved. Thwaites Glacier, also known as the "doomsday glacier", is reported to be melting quicker than previously thought - scientists are now trying to find out why. If all of the Antarctic ice melted, sea levels around the world would rise about 61 meters (200 feet). They wanted to understand how possible scenarios of future sea level rise might change over time as a result of marine ice sheet instability. It's us but for your ears. Global Warming: While the politics of global warming are fiercely debated, scientists broadly agree our Earth is in the midst of an accelerated warming trend. By Peter Hannam. Answer to: What happens if Antarctica melts? Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox. 2017-09-26T15:46:00Z The letter F. An envelope. The buoyancy force on the small block of water has to be equal to the gravitational force pulling down on the water. Antarctica is covered with ice an average of 2,133 meters (7,000 feet) thick. Since I really don't know if this value is legit or crazy, I'm going to take a peek at the Wikipedia Antarctica page. But many cities, such as Denver, would survive. Why don't we hear about the problems caused by the ice that melts at the North Pole? Conversely, the speed of the Earth’s rotation will decrease if its mass is moved away from the rotation axis. powered by Microsoft News. Even though the volume of material changes as the ice goes from a solid to a liquid, the mass stays the same. On February 6, 2020, weather stations recorded the hottest temperature on record for Antarctica. Melting Antarctic ice will raise sea levels and might cause humanity to 'give up ... New York' The research notes that if temperatures rise 2 degrees Celsius, ocean levels will rise 8 feet As ice sheets there collapse—a process some scientists now see as irreversible—global sea level could rise 10 feet. But what about the melting ice at the North Pole? © 2020 Condé Nast. Ad Choices. To find this rise in water, I just need to take the volume of melted water and divide by the area of the ocean (and here you can see why it's nice to have everything in units of meters, m2 and m3). This one is relatively mild for Antarctica but still involves three days of wind gusting up to 50mph. We’ll also hear from Vice President Joe Biden, who says denying climate change is “like denying gravity.” Check out the trailer above; the show airs tonight at 11pm ET. If USA or Russia launches a nuclear strike on Antarctica, it would have little impact on them politically. Aliens? Russia? Left: Wikipedia; Right: NASA. But wait! Antarctica is covered with ice an average of 2,133 meters (7,000 feet) thick. By Peter Hannam. Since the density of solid ice is slightly less than the density of liquid water, the ice floats. Well, you have to worry because it's a sign of climate change—just not about sea level rise. But Antarctica is still a juggernaut. It is the essential source of information and ideas that make sense of a world in constant transformation. Melting land ice, like mountain glaciers and the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, will change the Earth’s rotation only if the meltwater flows into the oceans. And Antarctica, which contains four-fifths of all the ice on Earth, would all but disappear. When we talk about global warming at the poles, the Arctic tends to get more press than the Antarctic, because it’s happening faster there than anywhere else on Earth. A remake an old video of mine, hope this answered some burning curiosities! If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands. This would put most of Europe underwater, along with large parts of Asia, Canada and South America. So what does this have to do with the Arctic ice? But since the change in sea level is very small compared to the radius of the Earth, I think this approximation is fairly fine. The so-called 'doomsday glacier' could trigger 10 feet of sea-level rise if it melts. Well, there's still water outside the metal block. Let's say Earth is a sphere (mostly true—it's actually wider around the equator) with a radius of 6.37 million meters. On February 6, 2020, weather stations recorded the hottest temperature on record for Antarctica. This gives a slightly smaller volume of water from the melted ice at about 3.14 x 1016 m3. Just click the "pencil" icon and you can input values that you think are better. West Antarctica: Like the Greenland ice sheet, the West Antarctic one was apparently much smaller during earlier warm periods. If Antarctica melts then all coastal cities will be submerged to a depth of 60 metres (200 feet). But even if you let the water spread over a complete Earth (including the land), it would be an increase of 62 meters (203 feet). Here is a diagram of the floating ice. The one thing that has to stay constant when the ice melts is the mass. Oh great—I'm reasonably close. If USA or Russia launches a nuclear strike on Antarctica, it would have little impact on them politically. The complete meltdown could take hundreds of years, but if you live anywhere near the coast, it’s not hard to imagine why my colleague Chris Mooney called that discovery a “holy shit moment for global warming.”. And Antarctica, which contains four-fifths of all the ice on Earth, would all but disappear. Let me start with the ice at the South Pole. If you have ice floating in the water, it displaces some liquid water. What If All The Ice Melted In Antarctica? But if the meltwater flows into the … Yes, there is indeed climate change. Can you pitch in a few bucks to help fund Mother Jones' investigative journalism? These charts show just how high sea levels will rise if Antarctica's ice continues melting at an alarming rate. Larger Image Two-thirds of Antarctica is a high, cold desert. People will move to higher ground and live much more simply than before. The great ice sheets covering Antarctica and Greenland have enough frozen water locked in them to raise the global sea level by some 70 metres. Even if my estimates are off by a little bit—it seems clear that there could be a very significant sea level rise. I'm not sure about the area or the depth of ice. North Korea? Want the latest on tech, science, and more? Even though the volume of material changes as the ice goes from a solid to a liquid, the mass stays the same. Yay, let’s roll! There is no evidence for a decline in the overall Antarctic sea ice extent. People will move to higher ground and live much more simply than before. On top of that, the ice on Greenland and Antarctica is made of freshwater, so when it melts, that's about 69% of the world's freshwater supply that's going straight into the oceans. Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do. Nine scientists think though what could happen if sea ice melts in Antarctica by 2070 If no steps are taken, sea levels will rise; fish and penguins will die; the US could see $1 trillion in damage 2. The continent of Antarctica has been losing more than 100 cubic kilometers (24 cubic miles) of ice per year since 2002. In this episode of Climate Now, we take a closer look at melting ice and rising sea levels, to understand what's really happening at the poles as the planet warms. That would suck. Imagine you have a glass of water with a single large ice cube in it. Here, let's do the math. (Because more ice melts each summer.). Business Insider. Subscribe today and get a full year of Mother Jones for just $12. Allthese mega cities will disappear under water. However, the Antarctic Peninsula, which juts out into warmer waters north of Antarctica, has warmed 2.5 degrees Celsius (4.5 degrees Fahrenheit) since 1950. Melting land ice, like mountain glaciers and the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, will change the Earth’s rotation only if the meltwater flows into the oceans. Greenland and Antarctica are currently both pushed downwards by the weight of the ice on top. In fact in most parts of the continent it never gets above freezing. The central and southern parts of the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula have warmed by about 2.4 °C. This kind of map makes Antarctica impossibly huge. The big difference is that the Arctic ice is floating while the Antarctic ice is sitting on land. This is the only way for the water to stay stationary—so, it has to be true. Listen on Apple Podcasts. So, if we approximate this as the diameter of a circular Antarctica, the surface area would be: Forgive me, but I'm going to cheat a little bit. North Korea? And that's why you don't have to worry about the Arctic ice. Larger Image. But the average temperature in Antarctica is -37°C, so the ice there is in no danger of melting. But the average temperature in Antarctica is -37°C, so the ice there is in no danger of melting. There is no evidence for a decline in the overall Antarctic sea ice extent. Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation. It indicates a way to close an interaction, or dismiss a notification. February 4 - 13, 2020. Can you pitch in a few bucks to help fund Mother Jones' investigative journalism? That means you still get the same upward buoyancy force that would be equal to the weight of the water block (not the metal block). By signing up, you agree to our privacy policy and terms of use, and to receive messages from Mother Jones and our partners. That's a crazy amount of ice. Subscribe To Life's Biggest Questions: http://bit.ly/2evqECe What If Another Ice Age Happened? Maybe seriously bad. I guess I should also point out that I ignored the curvature of the Earth and assumed it was a flat plat (the flat-Earthers would be happy). Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights. If the ocean was a perfect square, the melted water would be a flat rectangular box with the same area as the ocean and the depth equal to the amount of sea level rise. Antarctica seems to be both warming around the edges and cooling at the center at the same time. Let's spread this extra water all over the surface of the Earth. National Geographic has a good interactive map showing what 216 feet of sea level rise will do to coastlines around the world. We noticed you have an ad blocker on. Allthese mega cities will disappear under water. Quick Facts on Ice Sheets | National Snow and Ice Data Center Thus it is not possible to say whether it is warming or cooling overall.