Two new research studies confirm that geothermal heat flow is the dominant cause of West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) melting, while another study says West Antarctic ice loss is influenced by internal climate variability.
Antarctica is retreating across the seafloor as shown by the 565 square miles of underwater ice melted between 2010 and 2016. ocean melting may be a cause, but scientists always forget to talk about how volcanic and ‘geothermic’ Antarctica really is. But is geothermal heat the only reason behind the melting? On the surface of the icy continent, ice seems to disappear due to changing wind patterns. From above or below, the ice melts and the situation is screwed up.
Geothermal heat melts Antarctica from below
A study published back in 2018 shows that an active subglacial volcano melts the Pine Island Glacier from below.
Moreover, this study corroborated a 2014’s work, demonstrating the presence of glacial ice melting from bedrock heat flow in the Pine Island Glacial Valley.
This conclusion is a major setback for the idea that man-made atmospheric global warming is driving this ice melting.
Again in 2018, scientists have shown that the West Antarctica Ice Shelf significantly melted and retreated 10,000 years ago, then quickly recovered to its full extent. So forget about human evolvement back then.
So by combining the results and conclusions of those two research studies, it becomes clear that melting of West Antarctica’s Ice Sheet results from volcanic or geothermal heat flow.
But what is melting ice on the surface of Antarctica?
According to a new study, changing wind patterns due to internal climate variabilities bring warmer water to Antarctica and contribute to the melting of West Antarctica.
As stated in the abstract of the paper: “Recent ice loss from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet has been caused by ocean melting of ice shelves in the Amundsen Sea. Eastward wind anomalies at the shelf break enhance the import of warm Circumpolar Deep Water onto the Amundsen Sea continental shelf, which creates transient melting anomalies with an approximately decadal period. No anthropogenic influence on this process has been established.“
So the strong internal climate variability of the region is responsible for the melting. But as usual, you get research funds if you can find a link to anthropogenic climate change. And this is what they have found:
Here, we combine observations and climate model simulations to suggest that increased greenhouse gas forcing caused shelf-break winds to transition from mean easterlies in the 1920s to the near-zero mean zonal winds of the present day. Strong internal climate variability, primarily linked to the tropical Pacific, is superimposed on this forced trend.
Scientists don’t like the idea of active volcanoes and geothermal heat melting the ice shelves across Antarctica. But it is the principal source for subglacial melting on the continent. Ocean water may also play a role in coastal regions.
But everything happening on the surface of the continent is more controversial. Heat from below will not melt ice on the surface… It’s too thick. They are not in any way mutually exclusive factors…