News of the WeekGlobal Change

Signs of Past Collapse Beneath Antarctic Ice

Science  03 Jul 1998:
Vol. 281, Issue 5373, pp. 17
DOI: 10.1126/science.281.5373.17

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Summary

A paper in this issue of Science (p. 82) confirms glaciologists' suspicions that in the recent geologic past, at a time perhaps not much warmer than today, the West Antarctic ice sheet wasted away to a scrap and flooded the world's coast--a potential harbinger of what's to come in a globally warmed world. Researchers report that the muddy bed of the ice sheet yielded fossils of microscopic marine plants along with isotopes showing that the fossils were deposited under open waters. The age of the fossils shows that the ice was gone, making way for open ocean, sometime in the last 1.3 million years.