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A new satellite research conducted by scientists from Bristol University in the UK shows just how fast glaciers in Antarctica are disappearing into the sea, and also warn about this huge problem.
After carefully analyzing the data of the latest satellite survey, a drastic change in the status of Antarctic glaciers have prompted scientists at Bristol University in the UK to appeal for immediate change. Accelerated rates of flow in glacial ice streams point to serious problems for the icy southern continent, according to the BBC.
The researchers at Bristol University say that warm waters which come from the deep ocean are causing the swift changes. They posted the results of their report in Science Magazine.
The satellite data is based on more than a decade of observations of over 500 miles of coastline on the southwestern part of the Antarctic Peninsula. The findings shows that most glaciers in this area are dangerously sliding down towards the Bellingshausen Sea.
Bristol professor Jonathan Bamber says the surface cover in this area started shrinking drastically in 2009, and has only gathered up speed since. In some regions, the glacial cover is disappearing at a rate of over four meters each year, which researchers say is a “big signal.”
The ice has lost each year approximately 60 cubic kilometers, or 15 times the domestic water supply of the UK for a year’s time. That’s a huge amount of fresh water that was dumped into the ocean. Antarctica’s immense ice sheet is expected be one of the most important contributors to sea level rise if it will all melt into the Southern ocean.
The data was gathered by the European Space Agency’s Cryosat platform, a satellite which is orbiting Earth at around 700 km above the surface. The satellite made use of its radar altimeter to monitor the position and shape of ice cover and how this changed over time.
Climate models for Antarctica have not revealed a decrease in snowfall or an increase in air temperature, which points the researchers to the fact that water from below the surface might have been responsible for the significant glacial melt. Since a large part of the glacial ice in Antarctica sits below the surface, it was almost impossible to catch the melting with the naked eye.
As glaciers are still melting into the ocean, researchers are increasingly worried about their increase in sea level rise, but also coastal erosion, and other consequences of climate change.
Image Source: The Planet D