Scientists warn that West Antarctica ice has been thinned by & # 39; extraordinary amounts & # 39 ;, as shown by research on 25 years of satellite data that glacier thickness in some areas has dropped by 400 FOOT
- Research on 25 years of satellite data showed that 24% of West Antarctica is unstable
- Researchers say that the largest glaciers lose five times faster than in the past
- The ice shed of the glaciers is already contributing to the sea level rise, the team warns
Nearly a quarter of the ice in West Antarctica is now considered unstable after unprecedented dilution over its largest glaciers in the past two decades.
Scientists analyzing more than 800 million measurements from a series of satellites since 1992 have found that Pine Island and Thwaites glaciers are losing ice five times faster than when the research began.
In areas most affected, researchers found that the ice had thinned no less than 122 meters (400 feet), making the affected glaciers unstable.
The findings contribute to the continuing concern about sea level rise as a result of glacier loss and the implications this has for coastal cities.
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Researchers used 25 years of satellite data and climate models to determine how snow and climate change affect the loss of ice. Changes due to glacier dynamics alone are shown in green
The alarming new study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters discovered that the thinning has now spread to 24 percent of West Antarctica, including the majority of the largest ice flows.
These areas are losing more mass due to melting and ice calf events than they get due to snowfall, the researchers say.
& # 39; In parts of Antarctica, the ice sheet has been thinned by extraordinary amounts, so we wanted to show how much was due to climate change and how much was due to weather, & # 39; said lead author Andy Shepherd.
The team used ice sheet heights recorded between the ERS-1, ERS-2, Envisat and CryoSat-2 satellite altimeter tasks between 1992 and 2017, together with snow fall simulations of the regional RACMO climate model.
This allowed them to distinguish between changes related to short-term weather patterns and those of long-term phenomena, such as raising the ocean temperature.
Nearly a quarter of the ice in West Antarctica is now considered unstable after unprecedented dilution over its largest glaciers in the past two decades. The findings contribute to ongoing concern about sea level rise due to glacier loss and the implications for coastal cities
Although fluctuations in snowfall caused small differences in height in some areas, the effects lasted only a few years at a time.
Dramatic changes in ice thickness, on the other hand, emphasize the deteriorating instability in recent decades.
The team estimates that 24 percent of West Antarctica is now unstable.
& # 39; Knowing how much snow has fallen has really helped us to detect the underlying change in glacier ice in the satellite record, & # 39; said Shepherd.
& # 39; We can now clearly see that a wave of thinning has spread rapidly over some of the most vulnerable glaciers in Antarctica, and that their losses are driving up the sea level around the planet.
& All in all, ice losses from East and West Antarctica have contributed 4.6 mm to global sea level rise since 1992. & # 39;
Scientists analyzing over 800 million measurements from a series of satellites since 1992 have found that Pine Island and Thwaite glaciers are losing ice five times faster than when the research began
The research was based on 25 years of measurements from ESA satellites, which the team says is crucial for understanding these long-term patterns.
& # 39; This is an important demonstration of how satellite missions can help us understand how our planet is changing & # 39 ;, said co-author Dr. Marcus Engdahl of the European Space Agency.
& # 39; The polar regions are hostile environments and are extremely difficult to access from the ground. That is why the view from space is an essential tool for monitoring the effects of climate change. & # 39;
GLASS RETRAITE OF THWAITES
The Thwaites The glacier is slightly smaller than the total size of the UK, about the same size as the state of Washington, and is located in the Amundsen Sea.
It is up to 4,000 meters (13,100 feet thick) and is considered a key to making projections of global sea level rise.
The glacier recedes into view of the warming ocean and is considered unstable because the interior is more than two kilometers (1.2 miles) below sea level, while the bottom of the glacier on the coast is relatively shallow.
The Thwaites glacier is the size of Florida and is located in the Amundsen Sea. It is up to 4000 meters thick and is considered a key in making projections of the global sea level rise
The Thwaites glacier has experienced considerable acceleration since the 1970s.
From 1992 to 2011, the center of the Thwaites grounding line withdrew by nearly 14 kilometers (nine miles).
The annual ice discharge from this region as a whole has risen by 77 percent since 1973.
Because the interior is connected to the huge part of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet that lies deep below sea level, the glacier is considered a gateway to the potential contribution of West Antarctica to sea level.
The collapse of the Thwaites glacier would lead to an increase in sea level at world level between one and two meters (three and six feet), with a potential of more than twice that of the entire West Antarctic ice sheet.
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