It seems that Antarctica is losing ice each year which ends up in the sea and means that sea levels rise! Probably due to climate change – never mind, lets just carry on as usual!
Antarctica is now losing about 160 billion tonnes of ice a year to the ocean – twice as much as when the continent was last surveyed.
The new assessment comes from Europe’s Cryosat spacecraft, which has a radar instrument specifically designed to measure the shape of the ice sheet. The melt loss from the White Continent is sufficient to push up global sea levels by around 0.43mm per year. The GRL paper follows hard on the heels of two studies that have made a specific assessment of the future prospects for the Amundsen Sea Embayment.
One of these reports concluded that the area’s glaciers were now in an irreversible retreat. The other paper, considering one of the glaciers in detail, suggested the reversal process could take several hundred years to be completed. A loss of all the ice in the six glaciers would add about 1.2m to global sea level. This is still a small fraction of the total sea-level potential of Antarctica, which holds something like 26.5 million cubic km ice (or 58m of sea-level rise equivalent). But the continent has been largely insulated from some of the warming influences taking place elsewhere in the world and it is important, say scientists, to keep a check on any changes that are occurring, and the speed with which they are happening.
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