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ICE CAPS MELTING: Antarctica, Greenland losing ice mass rapidly

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
8/21/2014 (3 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Greenland is experiencing the biggest reductions in elevation currently

At times, it appears that the entire world will be submerged underwater in the space of a few years. Greenland is losing about 375 cubic kilometers of ice annually. Coupled with the discharges coming from Antarctica, Earth's two big ice sheets are now dumping roughly 500 cubic kilometers of ice in the oceans annually.

This data was the first to use information from the European Space Agency's CryoSat platform. The satellite was launched in 2010 with a sophisticated radar instrument specifically designed to measure the shape of the polar ice sheets.

This data was the first to use information from the European Space Agency's CryoSat platform. The satellite was launched in 2010 with a sophisticated radar instrument specifically designed to measure the shape of the polar ice sheets.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
8/21/2014 (3 years ago)

Published in Green

Keywords: CryoSat platform, Greenland, Antarctica, ice melt


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "The contribution of both ice sheets together to sea level rise has doubled since 2009," Angelika Humbert from Germany's Alfred Wegener Institute says. "To us, that's an incredible number."

The institute does not actually calculate a sea-level rise equivalent number; however if this volume is considered to be all ice, a small part of which will be snow, then the contribution is likely to be on the order of just over a millimeter per year.

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In Antarctica, the annual volume loss is about 128 cubic kilometers per year, plus or minus 83 cubic

In Antarctica, the annual volume loss is about 128 cubic kilometers per year, plus or minus 83 cubic kilometers per year.


This data was the first to use information from the European Space Agency's CryoSat platform. The satellite was launched in 2010 with a sophisticated radar instrument specifically designed to measure the shape of the polar ice sheets.

Led by senior researcher Veit Helm, the group has taken just over two years' worth of data centered on 2012/2013 to build what are called digital elevation models (DEMs) of Greenland and Antarctica, and to assess their evolution.

These models then incorporate a total of 14 million individual height measurements for Greenland and another 200 million for Antarctica.

The scientists are able then to calculate changes in ice volume beyond just the CryoSat snapshot.

Negative shifts are the result of surface melting and ice discharge; positive trends are the consequ

Negative shifts are the result of surface melting and ice discharge; positive trends are the consequence of precipitation, i.e., snowfall.


Negative shifts are the result of surface melting and ice discharge; positive trends are the consequence of precipitation, i.e., snowfall.

Greenland is experiencing the biggest reductions in elevation currently. That frosty nation has lost about 375 cubic kilometers a year with most of the loss occurring at the west and south-east coast of the island.

Significant thinning is seen also in the North East Greenland Ice Stream, or NEGIS.

"This has three outlet glaciers and one of these, the Zachariae Isstrom, has retreated quite a bit and some volume loss has already been reported. But we see now that this volume loss is really propagating to upper areas, much further into the interior of the ice sheet than has been recorded before, Professor Humbert explained.

In Antarctica, the annual volume loss is about 128 cubic kilometers per year, plus or minus 83 cubic kilometers per year.

This is concentrated in the continent's western sector, in the area of the Amundsen Sea Embayment.

Big glaciers here, such as Thwaites and Pine Island, are thinning and retreating at a rapid rate.

Professor Andy Shepherd, who was part of the British group that reported its findings in May, commented: "This is yet another exciting result from CryoSat, thanks to the team at AWI, charting yet more new ground by providing the first complete survey of ice volume changes in Greenland.

"However, the increased ice losses that have been detected are a worrying reminder that the polar ice sheets are still experiencing dramatic changes, and will inevitably raise concerns about future global sea-level rise."

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