Global climate change

Antarctica's Ice Shelves Experiencing Accelerated Losses

3/27/2015, 6:02:47 AM

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Researchers from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California at San Diego have determined that Antarctica's ice shelves have recently thinned by as much as 18 percent in some areas.

Image courtesy of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego.


These losses to the floating ice shelves off Antarctica have occurred over a two decade period (1994-2012), according to the EurekAlert story.

The research team used satellite radar altimetry mission data from the European Space Agency (ESA) to construct a new, high resolution record of the ice shelf thickness.

They found that the total ice shelf volume across Antarctica changed little between 1994 and 2003 before rapidly declining between 2004 and 2012. Video courtesy Scripps Institution of Oceanography and YouTube.

Melting ice shelves themselves do not contribute to sea-level rise, but they do restrain the flow of melting ice into the ocean from land based ice sheets such as that in West Antarctica, which does contribute to sea level rise.

If this rate of ice shelf thinning continues they could lose half of their volume in the next 200 years, which would indirectly result in a further acceleration of global sea level rise.

Key excerpts from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography UC San Diego article.....

“Eighteen percent over the course of 18 years is really a substantial change,” said Paolo. “Overall, we show not only the total ice shelf volume is decreasing, but we see an acceleration in the last decade.”

“We’re looking into connections between El Niño events in the tropical Pacific and changes in the Antarctic ice sheet,” said Paolo. “It’s very far apart but we know that these teleconnections exist. That may ultimately allow us to improve our models for predicting future ice loss.”


Other images courtesy of Wikipedia.

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Global climate change