Question: Is it possible for Antarctica to melt out because of climate change?

  1. Absolutely. If the atmosphere gets warm enough, the Antarctic and Arctic ice will melt, as will ice everywhere, such as snow. The question is, how much warmer does the atmosphere have to get and, in fact, is the atmosphere warming? Most scientific evidence would say the atmosphere is warming, but predicting how much and what effect this will have is a complex undertaking and a lot of the current controversy around climate change and appropriate responses hinges on asking questions like this. The climate change debate over the last decade has really highlighted to me that the community and our policy makers are largely illiterate when it comes to science. I don’t necessarily mean in terms of knowledge, I mean in having an understanding of the scientific process, where you have to weigh evidence and you are always working with probabilistic statements when phrasing conclusions. I hope that activities like this one (“I’m a scientist, get me out of here”) will help young people understand science a bit better and motivate them to learn more about how science works, so that they can contribute positively to debates like the one on climate change in the future.


  2. Hi Trolololo,

    I don’t have anything to add to this, Steven has answered it very well.

    The only thing I might mention is that it is also possible for the earth to completely freeze over; just about anything you can think of may happen to the earth. Hit with a big asteroid, certainly, be blasted by a mass corona ejection, certainly, ‘fall’ into the sun, sort of the sun will engulf us one day.

    Lots of things could happen to the earth.


  3. Whoah Dustin. Hope those things don’t happen too soon!!!


  4. Hi trolololo,
    I agree with Dustin, Steven has done a really good job of answering your question.
    It certainly is possible for the Antarctic ice to melt if it ever got hot enough, but no one really knows how hot would be hot enough. More research, and definitely more understanding of the issues surrounding climate change are needed.
    I’m also with Chris – hopefully all the ice on Earth melting or the entire Earth freezing or anything else that Dustin mentioned won’t be happening any time soon! 🙂


  5. Another interesting point to make is that Antarctica could melt entirely but it would still be there as it is actually a rocky continent under all that ice. It would be roughly the same shape and distinctly smaller but definitely still there. This is in contrast to the Arctic in the north which is entirely ice and would melt to forms only water.