Solar System Chatter

A Sudden Antarctic Ice Loss

University of Bristol
University of Bristol
A new study in Science warns us how suddenly climate change can cause destruction, when a previously stable 460-mile-long peninsula in the southern Antarctic began rapidly melting in 2009. The European Space Agency’s ice mission CyroSat studied the area for five years, concluding that the shelf is now losing ice at a rate of nearly 15 cubic miles per year, making it one of the largest contributors to sea-level rise in the region, and creating changes in mass so great that NASA’s GRACE mission detected small changes to Earth’s gravity. This, from a location that before 2009 had hardly been studied because it never showed signs of change. Scientists believe that the “subsurface melting of the glaciers passed a critical threshold that triggered the sudden ice loss.”

Heather Goss is the Departments Editor at Air & Space.

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