New research shows an ice sheet over what is now Norway melted as much as 2,000 feet in one day about 15,000 years ago — far faster than scientists had ever previously observed. The study published Wednesday in Nature, carries foreboding implications for the potential speed of climate-fueled ice melt today. “This is not a model. This is real observation. And it is frankly scary,” Eric Rignot, a UC-Irvine glaciologist not involved in the study, told the Washington Post.
The rapid melting was caused by the ice sheet lifting off the sea floor, allowing it to be melted from both above and below — a phenomenon already observed in Antarctica. “If temperatures continue to rise, then we might have the ice being melted and thinned from above as well as from below,” lead author Christine Batchelor, “so that could kind of end up with a scenario that looks more similar to what we had [off] Norway after the last glaciation.” (Washington Post $, The Guardian, Inside Climate News, BBC; Climate Signals: Glacier and ice sheet melt)