An Ice Sheet Remembers

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Science  03 Jan 2003:
Vol. 299, Issue 5603, pp. 57-58
DOI: 10.1126/science.1079568

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Are we witnessing the early stages of the collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet? In his Perspective, Ackert explains that to answer this question, we must study the behavior of the ice sheet not just in recent decades but over thousands of years. He highlights the report by Stone et al., who document slow but steady thinning of the ice sheet over the last ~9300 years, punctuated by more rapid thinning as the ice margin approaches. The record is consistent with earlier suggestions that the ice sheet is still responding to changes in climate and sea level that occurred thousands of years ago, making it difficult to predict its response to present climate warming.