Former Vice President Al Gore discusses the melting ice shelves in Antarctica.

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Just as the North Pole is melting, so is the South Pole.

A map of Antarctica shows what appear to be black dots in the middle of the continent. These, Gore says, are pools of water. Initially scientists assumed that these pools would freeze and fill up with ice. Instead, they burrow like termites all the way through the ice "and make it like Swiss cheese," he says.

Larsen B, an enormous ice shelf in Antarctica, was thought to be safe for at least 100 years despite global warming. After all, it had already been there for tens of thousand of years. "But starting at the end of January 2002, in a period of 35 days, it completely broke up," Gore says. "They were shocked. The scientists still haven't gotten over that."

When land-based ice like the Larsen B ice shelf falls into the sea and melts, Gore says it raises sea levels much more rapidly than the slow melting of mountain glaciers.

"Back at the time in the late '70s when we first started having hearings on this, a scientist said, 'If you start seeing ice shelves break up [in Antarctica], watch out,'" Gore says.
FROM: Global Warming 101 with Al Gore
Published on December 05, 2006