It’s no news that 2020 has been marked by tragedies. So far we have had a health crisis that fast spread around the globe, taking millions of lives and harming millions of others. Floods, droughts, and pests decimated crops and created a worldwide food shortage of grains, also contributing to the break of food supply chains. And now, a recent report has featured warnings of researchers of the University of Chile that revealed more than than 30,000 tremors have been registered in Antarctica since the end of August.
Scientists stated that although the majority of the quakes had small proportions, some of them hit magnitude 6. The shakes were detected in the Bransfield Strait, and although the surroundings of the strait have numerous tectonic plates and microplates, the center’s experts say that such a staggering incidence of tremors in the area has been utterly unusual.
Trembling episodes have become so recurrent the strait itself, which used to increase in width at a rate of roughly 7 or 8 mm – or 0.30 inch – a year, now has been expanding 15 cm – or 6 inches – a year, the center informed. “It’s a 20-fold increase, which suggests that right this minute the Shetland Islands are separating more quickly from the Antarctic peninsula,” described Sergio Barrientos, the center’s director.
The peninsula is one of the fastest-warming places on the entire planet, and scientists have been carefully watching the impact of climate change on icebergs and glaciers. What is happening in Antarctica right now has become a very relevant and rather alarming discussion amongst experts. Especially because the melting of Antarctic ice could impact on the quick rise of sea levels and provoke cataclysmic accidents all around the world.
Massive ice shelves have been melting from underneath for quite some time now. NASA has discovered a mantle plume almost as hot as the Yellowstone supervolcano that appears to be responsible for melting part of West Antarctica from beneath. Experts say the existence of an immense mantle plume could be the reason why this land is so unstable today, and why it collapsed so fast 11,000 years ago, at the end of the last Ice Age.
Analysts the continent’s conditions are starting to become unsettling. If that’s the case we could soon be witnessing a scenario we have only seen before in dystopian movies. Live Science has reported that “half of Antarctica’s ice shelves could collapse in a flash”. In fact, the rise in sea level is a phenomenon that has been preoccupying academic circles for decades. Considering the average expansion of all the seas on the planet, the land is being gradually swallowed up by ocean water and the tendency is that this situation will only worsen.
If you’re wondering what could happen if Antarctica’s ice melting process vastly accelerated and suddenly pushed sea levels up, National Geographic has published a projection on how the world would look like if all the ice melted, and their study uncovered that “the entire Atlantic seaboard would vanish, along with Florida and the Gulf Coast”. That is to say, every city that sits along the east coast of the United States would disappear. In California, San Francisco’s hills would become a cluster of islands and the Central Valley a giant bay. The Gulf of California would stretch north past the latitude of San Diego – not that there’d be a San Diego.
These changes are about to affect our lives in ways we could never have imagined. And no place on the planet will remain untouched by the calamities brought by environmental catastrophes. We are just at the start of a process that will alter the Earth’s landscape and all of our lives forever. That’s why experts say that if the ice in Antarctica starts to melt much more quickly, nothing will ever be the same.
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