Antarctic ice shelf is collapsing even faster according to satellite imagery. They are doubling previous estimates of losses over the past 25 years, according to a satellite analysis shown on Wednesday. A NASA study, conducted by researchers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, shows how climate change is weakening Antarctica's ice shelves.
At the same time it is accelerating the rise in global sea levels. JPL scientist Chad Greene, lead author of the study, explained: "Antarctica is crumbling on its edges. And as ice shelves diminish and weaken, the continent's massive glaciers tend to accelerate and increase the rate of rise.
global sea level." Eric Wolff, a Royal Society research professor at the University of Cambridge, added: "The good news is that if we keep the 2 degrees of global warming promised by the Paris Agreement, the sea level rise due to the East Antarctic ice sheet should be modest.
Failure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, however, would risk contributing many meters to sea level rise over the next few centuries."
Antarctic ice shelf is collapsing even faster according to satellite imagery
Ice shelves take thousands of years to form and act as buttresses that hold back glaciers that would otherwise slide easily into the ocean, causing seas to rise.
When ice shelves are stable, the long-term natural cycle of calving and regrowth keeps their size fairly constant. According to the researchers, this has reduced the mass of Antarctica's ice shelves by 12 trillion tons since 1997, double the previous estimate.
The net loss of the continent's ice sheet due to it spans nearly 14,300 square miles, an area nearly the size of Switzerland. Antarctica holds 88% of the sea-level potential of all the world's ice. For their analysis, Greene's team synthesized satellite images from visible wavelengths to track glacial flow.
The measured losses exceeded the natural filling of the ice shelf so much that the researchers found it unlikely that Antarctica could return to pre-2000 glacier levels by the end of this century. This happens faster in West Antarctica, an area hit hardest by warming ocean currents. Pic by NASA/Handout via REUTERS