International News: new island

Hannah Thomas, Staff Reporter

Pointing towards South America, the Antarctic Peninsula is one of the fastest-warming regions on Earth. Because of this regional warming, the Peninsula’s two major glaciers, the Thwaites and Pine Island Glaciers, are retreating toward the mainland faster than new ice can form. It’s chipping away at the coast a little more each year. 

All this melting ice left behind quite the surprise: an uncharted island, long-buried in ice and finally visible above sea level for the first time. Researchers with the International Thwaites Glacier Offshore Research Project discovered the island while sailing off the coast of the Pine Island Glacier ice shelf. 

The island is only 1,150 feet long and mostly covered in ice, but rises above sea level with a layer of brown rock. After making landfall, the researchers confirmed that the island is made of volcanic granite and is even home to a few seals. 

The researchers who discovered the island wearily named the uncharted outcropping “Sif Island” after a Norse goddess of Earth. 

As exciting as the discovery is, the island’s sudden appearance can directly be connected to global warming and the widespread glacial melt. It is likely that the island emerged due to a process called glacial rebound. When glacial ice melts, it relieves pressure on the underlying continent. In response, the continent may “rebound” or rise up higher than it previously was. 

It’s unclear whether rebound hastens or slows the rate at which ice shelves break apart. Hopefully, further studies of Sif Island may provide us with some answers.