Global warming: Melting Antarctica ice reveals uncharted island

Sif Island discovery altering world map.
The first visitors at Sif Island. The expedition confirmed that the island is made of granite and is covered by remnant ice shelf.

An expedition by a group of researchers made a discovery that will alter the maps of the Antarctic region forever — a small ice-covered island just about 350 meters long. The researchers made a landfall at the island made of volcanic granite and named it Sif Island, reports news website Live Science.

Researchers working with the Thwaites Glacier Offshore Research project chanced upon the island last week while patrolling the coast of the Pine Island Glacier, says the report. The tiny island is visible from the sea amid glaciers and icebergs and has a few resident seals.

The discovery of the island has once again highlighted the effect of global warming on the ice-covered continent Antarctica. Antarctic Peninsula is among the areas most affected by global warming. The peninsula’s glaciers are retreating fast, causing an increase in sea levels across the world. The average temperatures in the peninsula have increased by at least 3°C in the last five decades. The vast Antarctic ice sheet is losing ice at a frightening pace.

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Expedition member Peter Neff created a time-lapse video using satellite images that shows the ice shelf retreating in the last nine years, slowly revealing the tiny island in Pine Island Bay.

Last month, Argentine researchers recorded the highest temperature ever recorded in the continent, which is nearly twice the size of Australia. The temperature reading of 18.3°C at the Esperanza Base surpassed the earlier peak of 17.5°C recorded in March 2015.

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Antarctica has average temperatures ranging between −10°C in coastal areas and −60°C at the peaks in the interior. The huge ice sheet contains 90% of the world’s fresh water reserves. Scientists are alarmed by the widening cracks in the continent’s Pine Island Glacier. The ice flowing from the Thwaites Glacier has doubled in the last three decades.