27 Nov 2015

New insight into Antarctic glacier thinning

11:12 am on 27 November 2015

The rapid thinning of the Antarctic glaciers could last for centuries, according to a new study from Victoria University.

The large Totten Glacier drains a major portion of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet

The large Totten Glacier on the East Antarctic ice sheet. Photo: Esmee van Wijk / CSIRO

Its Antarctic Research centre has presented the first recorded evidence that the process has already taken place in the past - 7000 years ago.

It provides a new insight into parts of the Antarctic ice sheet that are currently thinning because of a warming ocean.

Deputy director Andrew Mackintosh said the research was a wakeup call that retreat of the ice sheet could happen very quickly and continue for a thousand years.

The discovery was important for understanding the current thinning process caused by warmer seas, he said.

He hoped it would help with predicting rising sea levels.

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs