Thursday, February 5, 2009

Melting Ice Shelf Could Flood Washington D.C.

People often talk about political powers endangering the seat of our government, but the faster than ever disappearing ice of Antarctica might actually be the biggest threat to Washington D.C.

Scientists predict Washington as one of many cities in the U.S. that will be several feet under water if the 6000 feet Wedst Antarctic Ice Sheet melts. This huge ice sheet that holds several glaciers in place would obviously have catastrophic effects if it disappeared completely, but certain coastal areas could be at risk if even part of it melts. Some states could be completely submerged.

Estimates place a sea level rise at around 16 feet in the case of a major ice shelf collapse. The rise would not be uniform, and strange gravitational effects could result from the lack of pull at the poles.

This meltdown could occur anywhere from decades to centuries, or it may not happen at all.

Melting and reformation of ice in polar regions is normal and part of natural patterns, but resarchers are concerned to see ice in both polar regions disappearing faster than in any other time in history. While there is evidence that global warming may be part of a naturally occuring cycle, other evidence suggests that the abnormally high melt is partially the fault of human activity.

Whether the melt is natural or not, scientists are concerned because it will have major effects on human life either way.