Rapid Ice Melt on Eagle Island and Warm Rivers Converge Beneath the Thwaites Shelf
In an event similar to the massive one day Greenland melt last year, Eagle Island on the Antarctic peninsula lost about 20% of its ice cover in the space of a nine day heat wave in mid-February. As the NASA image shows, much of the land beneath the island’s ice cap was exposed as about 4 inches of snowpack melted in a fortnight. Pools of meltwater opened up on the surface of the surface remaining snow.
The continent recorded it’s all time high during this period, reaching 69.8 F. Climate scientists say they have seen this trend in Greenland and Alaska in recent years, but this is a first for Antarctic.
This February heatwave was the third major melt event of the 2019-2020 summer after similar events in November and January. Says Nichols College glacieologist Mauri Pelto “If you think about this one event in February, it isn’t that significant. It’s more significant that these events are coming more frequently.“
In a related story from science journal Nature, a new expedition to Antarctica’s troubled Thwaites Glacier has discovered three streams of warm water running beneath the ice shelf, melting the glacier from below. Pine Island glacier, which has just calved an ice berg the size of Manhattan, is sending a river of warm water south to the Thwaites, while two other under-ice rivers are merging on the eastern side, once thought to be the more stable region of the formation.