Global warming is all that the article below talks about by way of explanation but bringing just a touch of extra evidence to bear alters the picture.

If warming is causing the glaciers to melt, how come the sea ice is at a record high?  Is the land warming while the sea is cooling? If so we are looking at local effects not global ones.

And there IS a local warming effect that could be at work.  Also in West Antarctica, an active sub-sea volcano has just been discovered.  And the discoverers note:  "Numerous volcanoes exist in Marie Byrd Land, a highland region of West Antarctica".  See the article following the one below.  And volcanoes are very hot.  So it is not at all improbable that there is vulcanism elsewhere in West Antartica which is warming things up and melting glaciers.

Vulcanism is at least as good an explanation as global warming as an explanation of glacial changes for 2 reasons:  1).  We know there is vulcanism nearby whereas we know that there is NO global warming going on at the moment.  2). Vulcanism explains the opposite trends in sea ice and glacial ice  -- which global warming cannot do  -- JR

The huge West Antarctic ice sheet is starting a glacially slow collapse in an unstoppable way, two new studies show. Alarmed scientists say that means even more sea level rise than they figured.

The worrisome outcomes won't be seen soon. Scientists are talking hundreds of years, but over that time the melt that has started could eventually add 4 to 12 feet to current sea levels.

A NASA study looking at 40 years of ground, airplane and satellite data of what researchers call "the weak underbelly of West Antarctica" shows the melt is happening faster than scientists had predicted, crossing a critical threshold that has begun a domino-like process.

"It does seem to be happening quickly," said University of Washington glaciologist Ian Joughin, lead author of one study. "We really are witnessing the beginning stages."

It's likely because of man-made global warming and the ozone hole which have changed the Antarctic winds and warmed the water that eats away at the feet of the ice, researchers said at a NASA news conference Monday.

"The system is in sort of a chain reaction that is unstoppable," said NASA glaciologist Eric Rignot, chief author of the NASA study in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. "Every process in this reaction is feeding the next one."

Curbing emissions from fossil fuels to slow climate change will probably not halt the melting but it could slow the speed of the problem, Rignot said.


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