Remnants of the Wordie Ice Shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula, Nov. 2017. Credit: NASA/John Sonntag A science team led by researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego has created a detailed history of mass loss from Antarctica’s floating ice shelves.
The researchers used a 25-year record of data from four separate European Space Agency satellite missions, NASA ice velocity data, and outputs from NASA computer models to find that these ice shelves have experienced a loss of nearly 4,000 gigatons since 1994—producing an amount of meltwater that can nearly fill the Grand Canyon—as a result of melting from increased heat in the ocean under the ice shelves.
“This is the most convincing evidence so far that long-term changes in the Southern Ocean are the reason for ongoing Antarctic ice loss,” said lead author and Scripps Oceanography graduate student Susheel Adusumilli. “It’s incredible that we are able to use satellites that orbit above the earth to see changes in regions of the ocean where even ships can’t go.”
The NASA-funded study appears Aug. 10 in the journal Nature Geoscience and includes co-authors from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Earth and Space Research in Corvallis, Ore. and Colorado School of Mines.
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