October 12, 2020 | News | No Comments
The rate of melting ice in Antarctica’s vulnerable Amundsen Sea region has tripled in the past decade, a new report published in Geophysical Research Letters on Wednesday has found.
Analyzing 21 years of data from four separate observation techniques, scientists from NASA and UC Irvine (UCI) discovered that glaciers in the region are shedding more ice mass than any other part of Antarctica and are the biggest contributors to rising sea levels in the region.
“The mass loss of these glaciers is increasing at an amazing rate,” said Isabella Velicogna of UCI and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who co-authored the report. She added that the changes “are proceeding very fast.”
The study examined more than two decades’ worth of data on “mass balance” of glaciers in the Amundsen Sea Embayment—including “how much ice the glaciers gain and lose over time from accumulating or melting snow, discharges of ice as icebergs, and other causes”—between 1992 and 2013.
The glaciers in the region lost mass throughout that entire period, at an ever-increasing speed. In fact, they are shedding roughly 91.5 billion tons of ice every year at a rate which grew by an average of 6.7 billion tons annually since 1992.
That rate is “almost three times the rate of increase for the full 21-year period,” the authors wrote. “By comparison, Mt. Everest weighs about 161 gigatons (177 billion U.S. tons), meaning the Antarctic glaciers lost an amount of water weight equivalent to Mt. Everest every two years over the last 21 years.”
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