A new study has determined that the Antarctic Glaciers rate of melting is higher than the previously believed rates as the gathered data revealed surprising numbers.
The average temperature levels of our planet have been on a constant rise and have led, amongst many other climate changes and extreme weather phenomena, to an increase in the speed of the Antarctic glaciers.
The West Antarctica ice sheets, which looks directly into the Amundsen Sea has been a decades-old observation spot for the concerned scientists.
As the researchers have been keeping track of its ice, rock, and ocean water levels, recent observations have led to the conclusion that the area is melting faster than thought or predicted.
The Amundsen sea embayment area has long since been viewed as one of the Antarctic’s most vulnerable zones. The reason for its unstable nature and increased vulnerability is the possible effect that the warm sea water could have on the glaciers.
As scientific papers have been noting ever since the 1970’s, the constant lapping of the warmer water could lead to an ice pop up and detachment from its rocky ground line.
If such an event were to happen, and scientists are afraid it could, it would mark the first step in a chain reaction that could to an even higher speed of melting and to a subsequent rise in the sea levels.
The problem posed by the water comes from the fact that the water caught between land and ice moves at a faster speed, which in turn generates heat, which leads to a faster-melting process of the ice situated above ground.
Scientists have proof that this event is already happening, and have been following the process with the help of the Operation Ice Bridge mission.
The airborne campaign mission has been flying for years now over the south and north ice sheets and measuring the changes that took place beneath the surface with the help of a ground-penetrating radar.
The new study, led by NASA’ Jet Propulsion Laboratory Glaciologist, Ala Khazendar, indicates that the process is having an even faster effect and speed than it was previously thought.
The results were gathered after Khazendar observed the almost exact flight path followed by the Ice Bridge during its 2009 and 2012 observations.
As the patterns offered a golden opportunity to study the Antarctic glaciers thickness change, the results were a cause of great surprise. As the western area revealed a significantly observable thinning near the rocky ground line, one of the glaciers, Smith, stuck out even more.
The glacier, one of the three to have suffered the most changes, was approximated to have lost somewhere around 300 – 490 meters of underbelly ice.
As the numbers have proven the theory and have unfortunately surpassed expectation, Khazendar considers that more urgent studies are needed in order to understand how and why the Antarctic glaciers are thinning, and even try and take some measures.
Image Source: Wikimedia