Antarctica is losing ice at an alarming rate. Scientists have concluded that the sea level could rise to 2100, by almost 3m (nearly ft) if no drastic steps are taken to decrease emissions. In a paper published by Princeton University’s Earth and Planetary Science Letters, scientists revealed that Antarctica’s enormous ice sheet has lost nearly twice the amount of ice in its west over the past ten years than it gained in the east. The scientists concluded that Antarctica’s melting ice cap was much more rapid than previously thought. The Antarctica’s huge ice sheet has lost two times as much ice over the last decade in its west than it did in its east. (Image from Princeton) Frederik Sims, an associate professor at Princeton of geosciences and his colleagues “weighed” Antarctica’s glaciers using gravitational satellite information. The ice sheet lost 92 trillions of tons of ice each year, from 2003 up to 2014,. A mile-high block of ice over Manhattan The ice that was lost would have a height of more than 1 mile, which is five times the Empire State Building. The largest portion of this loss was from West Antarctica. This is the smaller region of the continent and borders the Antarctic Peninsula, northward towards South America. The authors noted that the ice loss due to West Antarctica’s fragile glaciers increased by two-fold from 2008, HTML1, and from 121 trillion tons to 242 million tons. The ice sheet in East Antarctica, which is the continent’s larger and more stable area, grew over the same time. It only accumulated half of the amount lost to the west. Professor Simons stated that he had a solid solution, which is detailed, precise and clear. Professor Simons stated that even a decade of gravity analysis cannot convince you that this ice loss is due to human-caused global warming. The Princeton data show that West Antarctica is melting at a faster pace than was previously calculated. Christopher Harig (a Princeton postdoctoral researcher in geosciences), said that this study showed the western ice sheets are far less stable than the other areas. The ice loss rates in Antarctica increased by six billion tons each year, from 2003 up to 2014,. Simons and Harig discovered that the West Antarctica ice-melting rates increased by 18 trillion tons per year. They stated that ice losses are measured in tonnes per year or per squared. Harig said that the most concerning aspect of this growing and massive loss was along West Antarctica’s Amundsen Sea. Particularly, Pine Island and Thwaites Glacier, were already subject to large-scale losses. An iceberg measuring more than 2 ,000 miles across broke away from Thwaites Glacier in 2002,. Ocean currents cause Antarctica’s melting ice to rise. Harig said that melting icebergs and melting land ice can contribute to sea level rises. As the ocean temperature rises, melting ice shelves can no longer keep land ice from rising. Harig stated that “West Antarctic ice-melt continues to accelerate is a big deal since it increases its contribution to sea level rise.” He also said, “It truly has the potential to become a major problem.” The loss of mass in these areas can lead to a self-reinforcing feedback that causes more loss, eventually leading to a rise in sea level by many feet.” Simons said that their research differs from all other methods to measure Antarctic ice loss. It is based on satellite data which measures ice volume rather than mass. Researchers also included data from GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experimental), a joint dual-satellite mission of NASA and Germany Aerospace Center. GRACE uses gravity changes to measure the time-variable behavior of many components within the Earth’s mass system, including melting ice and earthquake-induced changes. Simons explained how much ice (mass), versus volume Simons said that although an ice sheet’s volume, which is how much space it takes up in space, is vital information it is possible for it to change. It does not affect how much ice is there. It is similar to weighing yourself by looking at a mirror rather than standing on a scale. Simons stated that you shouldn’t just look at the volume of ice, but also consider how much it weighs to determine the changes in mass. There won’t be much research on this type because GRACE satellites have ended. “This may be the last statement on this type of data.” Simons and Harig created a data analysis method that separates GRACE data into specific Antarctic areas. A continent-wide view of the entire ice sheet would give an overview of the changes in the total ice-mass, but it wouldn’t include temporal fluctuations or finer geographical details. Robert Kopp, Rutgers University’s associate director, Rutgers Energy Institute’s research center, said that Harig’s-and Simon’s analysis methods allowed them to see Antarctic ice mass changes in different areas. However, this view would not include temporal fluctuations or finer scale geographical detail. The [their] method will play an important role in monitoring changes to the ice sheet, and for testing models. Citation: Christopher Harig and Frederik Simons. Earth and Planetary Science Letters. Publication 2015. DOI: 10.1016/j.epsl.2015.01. 029.
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