Speed of Antarctic erosion doubles

Sea levels are rising by 0.43mm as Antarctica loses 160 billion tonnes of ice every year.

Speed of Antarctic erosion doubles

World Bulletin / News Desk

The radar of Europe's Cryosat spacecraft has noted that Antarctica is now losing twice as much as annually as it was when it was last surveyed.

Scientist told the Geophysical Research Letters journal that this rate recorded between the years 2010 and 2013 may push sea levels up by around 0.43mm per year, with the ice sheet eroding at 2cm.

This means that the White Continent is losing around 160 billion tonnes of ice all together, most of which has melted away from the western ice sheet, which is considered the most vulnerable.

Six huge glaciers in the Amundsen Sea Embayment are said to be undergoing rapid erosion, which accounts for 90% of the mass loss from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, with the Smith Glacier lowering by 9m per year.

"CryoSat has given us a new understanding of how Antarctica has changed over the last three years and allowed us to survey almost the entire continent," explained lead author Dr Malcolm McMillan from the NERC Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling at Leeds University told the BBC.

"We find that ice losses continue to be most pronounced in West Antarctica, along the fast-flowing ice streams that drain into the Amundsen Sea. In East Antarctica, the ice sheet remained roughly in balance, with no net loss or gain over the three-year period," he said.

"The peninsula is extremely rugged and previous satellite altimeters have always struggled to see its narrow glaciers. With Cryosat, we get remarkable coverage - better than anything that's been achieved before," added Prof Andy Shepherd, also of Leeds University.

At this rate, should the six glaciers totally melt, the sea level is set to rise by 1.2 meters globally.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 19 Mayıs 2014, 15:48