The glaciers of West Antarctica are so beautiful it’s hard to believe it’s only been around for 200 years.
But that’s only because they’ve been protected for so long.
When the ice caps started melting, glaciers in the area had been retreating rapidly for decades.
By the time the last glacial mass died in 2013, scientists had estimated the region had lost more than 40 percent of its ice in the last 100 years.
It’s a legacy that’s been slowly being re-established thanks to the work of two Australian scientists, who have managed to save one of the world’s largest ice sheets.
The scientists, Dr Sarah Parker and Dr Amanda Fisher, say the loss of Antarctica’s ice in recent decades is due to the effects of global warming and sea level rise.
They have already restored ice shelves in West Antarctica’s western sector, but Dr Parker is now hoping to get a similar feat across the entire continent.
She told ABC Radio Australia she was very excited to have secured the world-first Antarctic ice sheet restoration project.
“It’s been a long time coming, so to be able to get it going, it’s really exciting,” she said.
“We’ve been working on it for about 10 years and now we’ve got this fantastic collaboration of two Australians, Amanda Fisher and Sarah Parker, and we’re excited about getting to work on the next part of the project.”
The first phase of the park restoration project will involve digging up and reopening an ice shelf in the central part of West Antarctic ice, to make way for a massive road bridge.
“The next phase of work will be to work in the middle of the ice shelf to build a road to bring the road to the surface of the glacier, and then we will have a huge ice shelf bridge built on top of it,” Dr Parker said.
“Then we’ll go back and make a large ice shelf, and the ice will rise to the top and we can continue working on the ice.”
She said the project had already been completed and was expected to be completed in the next two months.
“We are really excited about it and it will really give us a new perspective on the glacier that’s lost over the last century,” she added.
Parker said there were a lot of challenges ahead of the restoration project but they would be met.
She hopes the work will create jobs and economic opportunities for the region.
“There’s a lot more work to do in the ice sector, especially in the northern part of Antarctica, but the restoration is going to be really good for the economy of the area,” she explained.
“I think it’s a great project that has great potential and will help to restore this ice shelf for future generations.”
To learn more about the project, check out the ABC Radio article, and watch our video below.