Scientists say a glacier on the icy continent of Antarctica that contains enough water to eventually raise global sea levels by 5 feet has been melting rapidly in the last two decades.
A new study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters found East Antarctica’s Denman Glacier has retreated nearly 3 miles in just the past 22 years.
Researchers at the University of California, Irvine and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory are concerned the shape of the ground surface beneath the ice sheet could make it more susceptible to climate-driven collapse. If fully thawed, the ice in Denman would cause sea levels worldwide to rise nearly 5 feet.
“East Antarctica has long been thought to be less threatened, but as glaciers such as Denman have come under closer scrutiny by the cryosphere science community, we are now beginning to see evidence of potential marine ice sheet instability in this region,” Eric Rignot, the study’s co-author and scientist at the University of California-Irvine said in a statement.
“The ice in West Antarctica has been melting faster in recent years, but the sheer size of Denman Glacier means that its potential impact on long-term sea level rise is just as significant,” Rignot said.