A new island has been discovered off the coast of Antarctica thanks to melting glaciers.
Until now, the granite island had been completely covered in ice. It now sits above sea level and was spotted by scientists from the Thwaites Glacier Offshore Research Project.
The four researchers — Julia Smith Wellner, Sarah Slack, Jim Marschalek and Peter Neff — were sailing near Pine Island Glacier when they saw the island on Feb. 26.
Though it only measures 250 metres long, it deserved a name all the same: Sif Island.
Wellner shared a few photos of the new discovery on her Twitter account.
“After being the first visitors, we can now confirm that Sif Island is made of granite and that it is covered by remnant ice shelf, and a few seals,” she tweeted.
The island is still mostly covered in ice.
Slack wrote a blog post for PolarTREC on Sif Island.
“At first, we thought maybe an iceberg had become lodged on the outcropping years ago and then melted enough to expose the underlying rock, but now we think that the ice on the island was once part of the Pine Island Glacier ice shelf, a massive field of floating ice that extends outward into the ocean from the edge of the glacier,” she wrote.
Slack explained in her post that the island’s appearance is probably a direct effect of the widespread glacial melt attributed to climate change.
Neff shared a time-lapse looking at Sif Island using Google Earth, showing the ice retreating from the island since the early 2010s.
The expedition wraps up March 25, at which time a full analysis of Sif Island will begin.
Thwaites Glacier, also known as “Doomsday glacier,” is one of the fastest-retreating glaciers in Antarctica.