3 September 2021

#AntarcticLog: Melting glaciers

Posted by Shane Hanlon

#AntarcticLog is a series of comics by Karen Romano Young. You can find the originals here

Today, as Hurricane Ida pounds the Gulf Coast, I’m thinking of Tulane University’s Brent Goehring, a researcher participating in the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration. He’s observing global climate change through his Antarctic research, from a distance, and in his own backyard.  Wishing everyone a safe passage through this hurricane season, as storms and seas intensify. 

This comic quotes the questions that have become bumper-sticker “what-ifs” for the ITGC scientists, because Antarctic melting is not a measure of WHETHER, but “How much? How fast?” 

The most vulnerable part of the Antarctic Ice is the Thwaites Glacier, part of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Could it melt? Yes — and it’s likely that it has, under different conditions many years in the past. In 2019, at the start of the ITGC work in Antarctica, I sailed aboard the JOIDES Resolution along with Alfred Wegener Institute scientist Johann Klages, who explained — in this giant comic — how glaciers arise — and how they can go down. The collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet could mean a 3.3-meter rise in sea level. 

Karen Romano Young is a writer, artist, deep-sea diver, and polar explorer. Follow her on Twitter & Instagram