New results published Thursday show that a third of West Antarctica’s ice layers have destabilized, the most susceptible portion of the mainland. In just 25 years, ice loss has accelerated five-fold across the region’s most endangered glaciers. To achieve their findings, scientists used 800 million satellite readings made since 1992. The scientists recognized regions of volatile fast thinning and ice loss.
The excellent news is that the East Antarctic, Antarctica’s largest and coldest portion, is mainly stable. Still, it’s not trivial what’s going on in the West. The study shows that over the previous 25 years the area has shed enough ice to fill Lake Erie almost twelve times over. And it’s getting worse than that!
“The ice layer has thinned in exceptional quantities in areas of Antarctica, and so we set out to demonstrate how much was due to climate change and how much was due to weather,” said Andy Shepherd, a polar researcher at Leeds University, CPOM ceo and lead writer of the latest research. They discovered that rainfall variations tend to drive tiny height adjustments over big regions for a couple of years at a moment, but the most pronounced variations in ice density are wind imbalance signals that have continued for centuries.
If those glaciers break up and the ice behind them falls into the sea, it could raise sea levels more than 10 feet and completely reshape coastlines.