10 May 2015

Oh Sh%$!

One of the issues with studying South Polar ice is that you cannot see what is under the ice directly.

Well, using satellite based gravimetric measurements, they were able to get data on mass changes under the ice, and it's worse than previously estimated:
Study after study shows that Antarctica isn't in great shape. Its ice shelves are disappearing and its ice sheets are collapsing, hastening swiftly rising sea levels. Sounds terrible.

But just in case you wanted a second opinion, a new study out of Princeton University takes a look at a decade's worth of satellite data. Their results, published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters, show that not only is Antarctica melting, it's melting faster than ever before.


They used data collected between 2003 and 2014 by NASA's Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) twin satellites that can measure differences in the amount of water around the world. Since its launch in 2002, GRACE has analyzed the health of underground aquifers, analyzed flooding, and helped show that ice loss in Antarctica was messing with the continent's gravity.

The data showed that between 2003 and 2014, Antarctica lost 92 billion tons of ice per year. That's the net amount of ice loss--some ice grew back in East Antarctica, but the gains were a drop in the bucket compared to the 121 billion tons of ice that the West Antarctic ice shelf lost during that time.
This story is not going to have a happy ending.


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