Antarctica's ice is melting at a dangerous rate, research shows
New research sheds a light on how much ice exactly has melted in the past decades and what is causing the current rise in global sea levels.
ANTARCTICA — New research sheds a light on how much ice exactly has melted in the past decades and what is causing the current rise in global sea levels, reports Phys.org.
According to a paper published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Antarctica has been losing six times more ice mass annually than 40 years ago due to climate-induced melting. This rapid rate of melting has increased global sea levels by more than half an inch.
The forty-year long research was conducted by glaciologists from the University of California, Irvine, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the Netherlands' Utrecht University who studied 18 regions in Antarctica including 176 basins and neighboring islands from 1979 to 2017.
The team found that the ice continent had shed 40 gigatons of mass annually from 1979 to 1990. The rate of loss increased six-fold to 252 gigatons per year between 2009 to 2017.
The team gathered data by analyzing aerial images taken by NASA's Operation IceBridge, observing satellite radar interferometry from multiple space agencies and studying Landsat satellite imagery series which have been ongoing since the 1970s.
Another study published in the journal Nature GeoScience revealed that variations in Earth's axial tilt, known as obliquity, affect the rise and fall of the Antarctic Ice Sheet.
That team also discovered a thin frozen layer of ocean water that surrounds Antarctica, known as sea ice, is vital in order to protect large portions of the continent's underwater ice from warmer waters.
Currently, sea ice levels in Antarctica are at their lowest since measurements started being recorded in 1979. Scientists warn that increasing levels of human-generated carbon dioxide could threaten the stability of the Antarctic Ice Sheet and dangerously elevate global sea levels.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Nature GeoScience, Phys.org, Science Direct
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