Environment

CryoSat detects heavy Antarctic ice loss

Researchers will need to gather more data before they can confirm the reason for the ice loss
Researchers will need to gather more data before they can confirm the reason for the ice loss
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The ice loss caused a small change in the Earth’s gravity field
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The ice loss caused a small change in the Earth’s gravity field
Researchers will need to gather more data before they can confirm the reason for the ice loss
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Researchers will need to gather more data before they can confirm the reason for the ice loss
CryoSat data has revealed a large amount of ice loss in the Southern Antarctic Peninsula over the last six years
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CryoSat data has revealed a large amount of ice loss in the Southern Antarctic Peninsula over the last six years

The ESA CryoSat mission has detected significant ice loss in a usually stable Antarctic region. The data recorded by the satellite revealed how multiple glaciers along the Southern Antarctic Peninsula started shedding ice in the 2009, with no prior warning.

The findings were made by researchers from the University of Bristol in the UK. While studying the data captured by the ESA's ice mission, the team found that the glaciers have been losing ice at a rate of around 60 cubic km (14.4 cubic miles) per year. That makes them one of the largest contributors to sea level rise in Antarctica, depositing some 300 cubic km (72 cubic miles) of water into the ocean over the last six years.

Furthermore, data from NASA's GRACE mission revealed that the ice loss in the region is so significant that it has caused small changes in the planet's gravitational field.

Prior to 2009, the 750 km (466 mile)-long peninsula had shown no signs of change. It's thought that the ongoing warming of surrounding oceans is to blame for the sudden ice loss, as changes in air temperature or snowfall are not significant enough to account for the shift.

CryoSat data has revealed a large amount of ice loss in the Southern Antarctic Peninsula over the last six years
CryoSat data has revealed a large amount of ice loss in the Southern Antarctic Peninsula over the last six years

The data was recorded by the CryoSat mission's advanced radar altimeter, taking detailed measurements of ice surface height variation. The new findings take into account five years worth of observations.

This isn't the first time that CryoSat data has detected significant ice loss. Over the past six months, the mission has revealed a small decrease in overall Arctic ice volume, and rapid ice loss in the Austfonna ice cap on Norway's Nordaustlandet island.

According to the researchers, further observations of the Southern Antarctic Peninsula will need to be made before the cause of the newly observed ice loss can be pinpointed. The scientists will now work to obtain data pertaining to the geometry of local ice shelves, ice sheet thickness and more.

Source: ESA

4 comments
piperTom
Oh no! If there's "an area" where ice is retreating, I had better rush out to vote for a politician who will put crippling taxes on energy. As to the issue of "sea level rise in Antarctica", you do know that the seas don't pile up in places, right? Also, you might note that sea level has been rising for 20 thousand years. So, what's new? Mayhap we will see some reporting soon on the press release not issued: the one that says "we found some areas with no ice loss".
christopher
Quick!!! Move to higher ground. Oh - wait a sec - 361,000,000km^2 ocean surface area... um... that "one of the largest contributors to sea level rise in Antarctica" doesn't even increase anything by even as much as a single millimeter. And, by the way, you would never be able to measure that anywhere either, because "land" itself is not stationary - everywhere on earth is moving up or down... including the points where satellite altitudes are supposedly synchronized with. Pick the right coastline, and you can scream just as loudly and accurately that the oceans are falling. Oh yeah, and guess what, the earths magnetic field moves too - I'm pretty sure you're going to need more than 5 years data to measure if the ice has anything to do with gravity measurements - but hey - all mater has gravity - if I took one pace in any direction, I too "caused small changes in the planet's gravitational field", so at least they're not fibbing, whether or not they measured anything attributable.
Scion
PiperTom, Actually sea levels do vary from place to place. Look it up (google: do sea levels vary around the world?). Second, sea level rising for the last 20,000 years? At what rate? I think you'll find the rate is what is new. And some areas without ice loss? You'd also find there are some areas that are colder than they have been but that isn't addressing global average temperature (or more accurately global average energy storage) Your attempt to align science with what some politician may or may not do also does not alter reality. The satellite readings don't pay attention to the action or inaction of lobby groups in your country of choice.
Sándor Dávid Papp
@Scion: You must admit, that nowadays, climate science is saturated with politics. The above article certainly tell the truth about a small, selected area of Antarctica, that is heated by a local warm ocean stream. But it doesn't tell the greater truth, that the whole ice mass of Antarctica is still growing, and the average temperature of Antarctica is still cooling. - Considering that "the Antarctica is melting" phrase is a threatening one, telling the half of the truth isn't a decent thing, to say the least. Hence, we shouldn't call it delicate science. We should call it rough politics.
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