Antarctic Melting

Antarctic Melting

The melting of Antarctica’s ice is carefully monitored as it can have an effect on the world’s sea level. If the West Antarctic ice sheet were to melt, global seas would rise by 15 to 20 feet. If the East sheet were to melt as well, seas would rise by as much as 200 feet, swamping many oceanic islands and redrawing the world's coastlines.

The difference between the accumulation rate (snowfall) and the rate of melting controls what is known as the ice sheet’s "mass balance." Changes in this balance can be related to natural changes in temperature but are also being linked to human-induced global warming.

Video: British Antarctic Survey
Text: British Antarctic Survey and WGBH Educational Foundation