Why East Antarctica is a ‘sleeping giant’ of sea level rise

Jan Lieser had just started going through the dozens of satellite images he looks at every day when he realised something was missing. As a glaciologist at the University of Tasmania’s Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, he knew the shape of every ice shelf sticking out from the coast of East Antarctica. And on 17 March 2022, there was a gap where most of the Conger glacier’s ice shelf had broken off into an iceberg the size of Vienna and drifted away.

Lieser was stunned. He had been keeping an eye on Conger since the last few pieces of the neighbouring Glenzer ice shelf had broken up 10 days before, but he had not expected to see it disintegrate so quickly. “All of a sudden the rest of the land-fast ice collapsed, and the ice shelf moved northward and turned 90 degrees sideways. Two features we had been monitoring for years weren’t there anymore,” he says. “In my 15 years of looking at it, I have not expected to see that in East Antarctica.”

Read on at BBC Future

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