Scientists track an alarming melt of 40% in Antarctica sheets over the last 25 years in the study published in Journal Science Advances on Oct 12, 2023. This study shows almost half of Antarctica’s ice shelves are shrinking. This could increase ice loss from glaciers and affect the ocean’s ability to absorb carbon. Satellite radar images of the European Space Agency were used in the study.
According to the study, 71 of Antarctica’s 162 ice shelves lost mass from 1997 to 2021. Out of these, 68 ice shelves reduced significantly. European Space Agency found this study “alarming”.
The ice sheets are melting at a more widespread rate than previously thought. The results show the effects of higher global temperatures that the continent is facing.
Benjamin Davison, lead author of the study said it is a surprising result for him just how many ice shelves were declining largely and continuously. He also said that lots of ice shelves, not just the big ones, are steadily losing mass over time with no sign of recovery.
Scientists found 29 ice shelves gained mass and 62 shelves did not change significantly. They found that 48 of the ice shelves had lost more than 30% of their mass during the 25-year period. The main cause for this melting was ocean currents and winds on the western side of Antarctica pushing warm water under the ice shelves.
Ice shelves are large floating pieces of ice that surround the Antarctic continent. These shelves help to protect and stabilize the region’s glaciers by slowing their flow into the ocean.
Large ice shelf melts release freshwater into the ocean. European Space Agency said these ice shelf melts could have effects on ocean circulation.
Scientists fear the impact of climate change at the southern pole is increasing rapidly, based on initial data published last month showing record low levels of sea ice around Antarctica.
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