Satellite imagery shows Antarctic ice shelf crumbling faster than thought - Reuters

Satellite imagery shows Antarctic ice shelf crumbling faster than thought - Reuters

Satellite imagery shows Antarctic ice shelf crumbling faster than thought - Reuters
Aug 11, 2022 1 min, 27 secs

The first-of-its-kind study, led by researchers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) near Los Angeles and published in the journal Nature, raises new concern about how fast climate change is weakening Antarctica's floating ice shelves and accelerating the rise of global sea levels.

The study's key finding was that the net loss of Antarctic ice from coastal glacier chunks "calving" off into the ocean is nearly as great as the net amount of ice that scientists already knew was being lost due to thinning caused by the melting of ice shelves from below by warming seas.

The net loss of the continent's ice sheet from calving alone in the past quarter-century spans nearly 37,000 sq km (14,300 sq miles), an area almost the size of Switzerland, according to JPL scientist Chad Greene, the study's lead author.

But even in East Antarctica, a region whose ice shelves were long considered less vulnerable, "we're seeing more losses than gains," Greene said.

One East Antarctic calving event that took the world by surprise was the collapse and disintegration of the massive Conger-Glenzer ice shelf in March, possibly a sign of greater weakening to come, Greene said.

Eric Wolff, a Royal Society research professor at the University of Cambridge, pointed to the study's analysis of how the East Antarctic ice sheet behaved during warm periods of the past and models for what may happen in the future.

"The good news is that if we keep to the 2 degrees of global warming that the Paris agreement promises, the sea level rise due to the East Antarctic ice sheet should be modest," Wolff wrote in a commentary on the JPL study.

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