A deeper insight into East Antarctic melting: reason to worry?

A deeper insight into East Antarctic melting: reason to worry?

As a previous post discussed, whilst most ice-melt in Antarctica takes place in the west and on the Antarctic Peninsula, the situation in East Antarctic isn’t as stable as once thought.

New concerns have been raised regarding East Antarctica’s ability to reshape coastlines around the world through its contribution to sea-levels with increasing melting. New maps tracking ice velocity and elevation changes of eastern glaciers put together by NASA are the reasons for these rising fears. On the eastern side of the continent, the Totten glacier garners the most scientific interest: it is the largest ‘moving mass of ice in East Antarctica. NASA’s new maps show, however, that the ice-loss taking place in some of the smaller glaciers to the west and to the east of Totten necessitates more interest.

The findings were revealed in early December by NASA glaciologist Catherine Walker:

NASA’s landsat imagery – rate of ice sheet flow in Antarctica

Glaciers in Vincennes Bay appear to be in particular trouble, having lost 9 feet in height since 2008. The above map reveals that whilst melting in the west and especially around the Antarctic Peninsula is far more significant, melting in the east, particularly around the Totten glacier area, is also widespread and systematic in nature.

Two potential explanatory factors posited by Walker explain the increased melting in Wilkes Land and Vincennes Bay :

  1. The glaciers in both areas are drains for the largest subglacial basins on the eastern side of the continent
  2. Both basins are below sea-level, allowing warmer water to get further inland to speed up melting. (We can remember from an earlier post that one factor behind the faster melting in the west is due to the bases of Western Antarctica and the Antarctic Peninsula being marine-based and so in constant contact with the warming currents in the Southern Ocean.)

Understandings of the topography and bathymetry of the bedrock and ocean floor around the Wilkes Land and Vincennes Bay area are still limited. This is in part linked to the ingrained belief amongst the scientific community of the area being stead-fast and stable. There’s the possibility that if the bed-rock is smooth and sloped downward, ice-loss will take place at a far faster rate than if it was littered with ridges and sloped upward. To predict more concretely the potential for these glaciers to contribute significantly to sea-level rise, a lot more work must be done.

Cassie Matias – futuretravel.today

What is for sure? The frozen continent is melting. Antarctica is changing. The rate of that change is what we need to figure out…


Cover photo by Cassie Matias on futuretravel.today

36 thoughts on “A deeper insight into East Antarctic melting: reason to worry?”

  • Honestly I absolutely love reading your blog posts I’ve been following you and James on Instagram for a while now and I’ve been so inspired by you both and actually have become vegan because of you guys and because of James I’ve also started to motivate myself and go to the gym so thank you both very much my Instagram is @caitlin.1967
    And I would love if you could give me a follow or even a reply back to this comment
    Much love Caitlin brechin ❤️

  • I just started reading your blogs and I love them , they’re so fascinating and I can tell you put a lot of work in. Good job ! ❤️

  • This is a really good blog and so interesting to read. Great Blogger. I am interested in a lot of your blogs so please follow.

  • I have only just started reading your blogs and I absolutely love them there so interesting to read can’t wait for the next one!

  • Hi Kirstie! I’ve only just started reading your blogs and I’m really enjoying them! I have exams coming up and your blog on exams and revision tips really helped 😊 I also love your instagram, you and James are so cute and you’re so pretty! Can’t wait for your next blog and good luck with your degree 😘 xx

  • Hello Kirstie. My name is Katy and I have just started reading your blog and I must say, I cannot stop reading! I absolutely love reading and learning a more detailed insight into the world we live in today and the problems we should be trying to fix. Keep up all the hard work, and thanks! Lots of Love from Katy x

  • hello ive just started reading your blog and have been so far enjoying it keep up the good work lots of love Macy 👍🏻❤️

  • Also just wanted to say you are such an inspiration to me to become a better person because you are just so sweet and kind , I also think you and James are very cute together and I hope you have a very lovely future, good luck on your exams I hope you do very well , Love Macy ❤️, ps it would mean the world to me if you replied

  • First off great article! Super eye opening! I’ve only started reading your articles but I will definitely be reading them more often and be binge reading previous ones lol. I am really alarmed at how much the world is dying. I read a Twitter moment earlier talking about how the dead sea is drying at an alarming rate which just adds to my worries. And Antarctica I feel is melting at quite an alarming rate nowadays. I’ve noticed changes around me as well. For me where I live, we should be having heavy snow at this time of year but it’s too warm so we have been getting lots of rain instead (which nothing against rain but I like snow a bit more lol). But I am so glad you are taking the time to really spread the word about the world changing and taking the time to write such informational and interesting articles like this one. I’m at the awkward stage in my life where I should decide what I want to do with my life (aka 17 in high school) and I think I might be leaning toward environmental science since I am being educated so much more day by day about how much our environment is quickly changing and how I can help. I will definitely try to spread more awareness even more now because I always have convos with my friends about earth and global warming and how alarming it is because it really does concern me and the world can’t continue to ignore such a huge issue any longer. Sorry this comment is so long!
    – Ndeye ❤️

    • That’s wicked to hear, thank you Ndeye! It’s so cool to see young people being drawn to the environmental sciences and humanities. With the state the world’s in, the more people interested on whatever level is a positive!

      Keep on spreading the word, and thanks for caring. Kirstie 🙂

  • Hi Kirstie, I have just started reading your blogs and they are so amazing and interesting. I also just wanted to say that you and James inspire me so much everyday and I wish you so much luck with your degree🥰xx

  • Hey Kirst, my names Rose.

    So this year I have my GCSE subjects to choose. I’m definitely considering geography as i feel it’s got so many important subjects within that everyone should know so we don’t trash the world even more in future generations…! The only thing is, I’m definitely a teacher’s pet and I’m not sure if it’s just the teacher that’s making me enjoy the subject and if I get a new teacher for my GCSE I may loose interest? What do you think?

    I’m more of a human geography person than a physical, but global warming is my favourite inter subject. Im going to be honest, I didn’t understand 100% of what you’ve written because it’s at such a high level of geography vocabulary that I haven’t learnt yet, but from what i understood, I found it so interesting and shocking! Especially the ice sheet diagram, I’ll be using that diagram in my current geography project.

    Our school’s geography department in Devon are looking for someone to come in and do an assembly on global warming from someone that would connect with us better than the teacher’s do, so if you ever have a spare afternoon or something between now and July, I could talk to my teachers and volunteer you. They could definitely set a date? Even if you’re not comfortable with that, I’d definitely love to hear from you.

    Hope your studyings going well, I could definitely tell from this that you’re at a high level! You’re amazing.

    Rose xx

    • Hi Ruby! It can definitely be hard sometimes to figure out if you like the subject, or the teacher. I think deep down though you are aware if the information you’re exposed to excites you. If you are, then go for it! You could even find out who is likely to teach the GCSE classes and see if you could have a chat with them and ask for some book suggestions that might cover the topics you’ll discuss.

      That’s a very kind offer, thank you! Although public speaking isn’t my strong point (yet, anyway!) and I am in no way an expert, sadly!

  • Hey Kirstie
    I’ve been reading your blogs since your first one and I’d like to thank you for doing these because you have taught me soo so much it’s quite unbelievable and I hope that you keep doing them so I can learn more about Antarctica and other subjects.
    I’d also like to thank you for inspiring me by doing your degree. As you’ve shown me that if you out enough work in something brilliant can come out of it. I started my GCSEs in September and I picked subjects that were definitely challenging and you’ve helped me to grow in confidence and helped me to realise that I can do it if I want to. My first report reflected that as I got straight A*s across twelve subjects. So thank you so much for that. I’d like to wish you the best of luck with the rest of your degree and as james would say YOU’LL SMASH IT

  • Hey Kirstie,

    I really can’t understand how despite all the evidence across the world and your article providing scientific evidence of a few Glaciers Melting people still refuse to believe that our climate is changing! To me Climate Change and Global warming are the single most important thing that is happening to our environments at present. I agree with you that this is a super important topic and one that everyone should be educated on. Therefore, I admire you for raising this awareness and posting this article on your Instagram Feed.

    Sustainability and Climate Change are two topics that I received the highest mark for at University because it is genuinely a passion of mine and I enjoy exploring and gathering more information about it in my spare time. There are also some super interesting documentaries out their not only about the melting of Ice but about methane released into the Atmosphere etc. If you would like any information on the best ones to watch let me know! 🙂

    Otherwise thank you so much for posting about this topic – It means a lot to know that there are other people out there who genuinely care and are willing to share this crucial information with others! I was admired you anyway and now I admire you even more 🙂 Have a lovely Sunday! x

    • Thanks for the support and interest! It’s so much easier to dedicate your time to a topic if you are genuinely passionate about it, isn’t it? I’d love to know the documentaries!

  • Hey Kirstie, it’s been really interesting to watch your blog develop on these issues in recent weeks. What issues will you cover next to keep the conversation going and can you recommend me any further reading? Great work and engaging writing, well done!

    • Thank you Elise! Going forward I’m aiming to stay on top of environmental change in Antarctica compared with change in the Arctic, I think! I’d really recommend picking up Antarctica: An Intimate Portrait of the World’s Most Mysterious Continent by Gabrielle Walker. It’s not heavily scientific and it’s part of the reason I fell in love with Antarctica so deeply and so quickly. Let me know what you think of it!

  • “The frozen content is melting” – an overwhelming and scary statement that many are simply ignorant to or perceive as a distant and future problem. For those of us that feel anxious about this topic, what can we do?!

    • Read about it, engage with it, and talk about it! Start a conversation. Support businesses that care, vote for MPs and parties that vow to make a change, pursue jobs that give you power to make change, challenge people who deny or brush it off. We can all make an impact!

  • Hi Kirstie, well the truth is that i’m very attracted by your blog, it is very good as well as interesting, i really love it, i see that you put a lot of effort into every detail, i follow you and James on instagram i wish you two could follow me back but i don’t think that could happen, anyways, you two occupy an important part in my life that inspires me every day to be better and contribute to the world,this might not be about antarctic but i even make my friends do not use straws or as less plastic as possible, maybe it’s not that much, but i like to do that and when i do it, i like to put a really smiley face cause everything is better with a smiley face on it, btw i love everything i read on your blog and it’s brilliant, i wish you could answer me, love you and James sooo much… p.s. with so much love Andrea Ronquillo ❤️ my account of IG is: @andyvampette28

    • This is about Kirstie don’t try and use her to get James’s follow on Instagram. This is such an interesting blog Kirstie and I’m grateful for the protests you do all about plastic and saving the world by small but massively impacting actions we can take everyday.

      • Excuse me if it bothers you, I was not trying to do that. That was not my goal, I’m not like that. and i really love kirstie’s blog i’ve never read something like this before, she’s really brilliant❣️🙌🏻

      • I do not think she is using Kirsty to follow her, as she many more people put their accounts in their comments to follow, so I do not think you should care about Andrea’s comment since it is her comment, not yours

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