Melting Ice Is Physically Reshaping Earth

In Clean Facts, Environment, News, Sustainability
melting ice

The melting Arctic ice is physically reshaping the Earth’s crust, according to a study by Harvard scientist. The outermost layer of our planet is surprisingly elastic ans so the crust rebounds outward after the ice on top of it melts away, but doesn’t always return to a perfectly spherical shape.

melting ice
Predicted average crustal deformation rates generated by ice-mass loss across the Greenland Ice Sheet from 2003–2018

The study shows that these deformations are not only larger than scientists thought, but also that they can have significant influences on ecosystems in an area for thousands of years.

For example, parts of the crust around the Arctic are still expanding like an extremely slow balloon after the weight of the ice age — which ended 11,000 years ago — was lifted off of it. As more melting happens thanks to climate change, the expansions and warping effects are compounded, creating an increasingly-complex landscape.
Average crustal deformation rates predicted across North America, southern Asia and southern South America in response to ice-mass changes from a global database of glaciers and ice caps (2003–2013). Vertical motion is given by the red-blue color scale and tangential motion is represented as arrow vectors.

Being able to monitor this ballooning is valuable for scientists. Understanding how the earth is changing shape makes it easier to study and predict tectonic movements, earthquakes, and other geological processes.

icebergs

But it also has implications for climate change. As Antarctic ice melts and the crust pushes outward it may deform and push bedrock out of position, further displacing ice and creating a vicious cycle leading to even greater melting.

Reference- Harvard University Outreach, journal Geophysical Research Letters, Phys.Org, Futurism

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