West Antarctica, where the ice is melting fastest, is also home to a number of active volcanoes. Could they be melting the ice, instead of climate change?
Several lines of evidence say the answer is a resounding NO.
First is Iceland. The land mass has many very active volcanoes, but glaciers still cover its surface. And Iceland is just one of several examples showing that fire and ice can coexist at volcanoes without widespread melting occurring. Second, volcanoes called tuyas erupted through ice sheets during past Ice Ages, and there is little evidence they caused rapid, catastrophic melting. Third, the volcanic activity beneath West Antarctica hasn't significantly changed in the past few decades, which is when the glaciers there started their galloping retreat. Finally, a super-eruption the size of Yellowstone's biggest blast would be needed to melt through the miles of ice that cloak the volcanoes, scientists have calculated. [Fire and Ice: Images of Volcano-Ice Encounters]