Antarctica melting at accelerating rate

Antarctica

Antarctica melting at accelerating rate

Basically, the current rate of melting in Antarctica has boosted the sea level rise by 0.3 millimeters per year since 1992.

"Ice shelves fringe about three quarters of the Antarctic coast and they play a crucially important role in moderating sea level rise by buttressing and slowing the movement of glacial ice from the interior of the continent to the ocean". It is also created to measure changes around the margins of ice sheets where ice is calved as icebergs. "Regional sea ice loss impacts the temperature and circulation of the ocean, as well as marine productivity".

The study, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, has been described as the most exhaustive analysis ever conducted on the changes to Antarctica's ice sheet.

In total, an estimated 3 trillion tons of ice vanished from Antarctica during the 25-year survey period. NSF funded the USA participation in ANDRILL.

The study found more than 10 percent of Antarctica's coastal glacier are now retreating more than 25m per year. Since 1989 more than 150 calculations and estimates have been made, this one being the latest.

It's "possible that Antarctica alone can add about half a foot to sea level rise by the end of the century", Shepherd said in an interview with The Associated Press.

This study focused on the portion of the ice sheet that sits above the ocean.

The high seas are getting even higher, and all that water is largely coming from a colossal Antarctic ice melt that has gotten much worse in recent years.

Scientists believe a mantle plume exists underneath Antarctica's Marie Byrd Land explaining the well-documented instability and weakness of the ice sheet today.

"We have long suspected that changes in Earth's climate will affect the polar ice sheets", Andrew Shepherd from the University of Leeds, who led the research, said in a statement. "But remember for the northern hemisphere, for North America, the fact that the location in West Antarctica is where the action is amplifies that rate of sea level rise by up to an about additional 25 percent in a city like Boston or NY".

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Ice loss of 2.7 trillion tonnes since 1992 added about eight millimetres to sea level.

Researchers from Boston College, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Purdue University, the University of Vermont and Victoria University of Wellington collaborated on this work.

If not enough is done to curb greenhouse gas emissions, changes to the Antarctic environment will result in global sea levels rising by more than a metre (3.3ft) by 2070. Although typically rare, these events are already increasing in frequency, and will become commonplace as global sea levels increase. Some 80 percent of that rise would come from the melted Antarctic ice sheet.

The researchers analyzed sediment contained in drill cores taken from the sea floor.

Finally, the scientists are recording gravity measurements for Antarctica.

A single millimeter of global sea level rise is equivalent to 360 billion tons of melted ice, or an imaginary huge ice cube with sides about 4.35 miles long.

Time is rapidly running out to save Antarctica and the rest of the world from the catastrophic runaway effects of climate change, scientists have warned. But it was unclear whether terrestrial ice also retreated. "However, it took a whopping 10,000 years, up until now".

Ocean acidification has not worsened and Antarctic ecosystems have remained intact.

The findings are reported in Nature in five separate papers here, here, here, here, and here. The latest study settles an old argument: the combined evidence suggests that East Antarctica is more or less stable, gaining if anything 5bn tonnes a year on average, perhaps because of greater snowfall. The importance of space agencies in assessing these environmental scenarios remains of crucial importance. Each year, NSF receives more than 50,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards.

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