Using GRACE or gravitational satellite data, researchers have found that the ice sheet covering Antarctica is melting faster than ever, especially in the past one decade.
Antarctica’s massive ice sheet lost twice its mass in its western portion compared to what it accumulated in the east and the southern continent’s ice cap is melting ever faster, said researchers.
The researchers were able to “weigh” Antarctica’s ice sheet to find that from 2003 to 2014, the ice sheet lost 92 billion tonnes every year. It doubled since 2008, owing to West Antarctica’s unstable glaciers which have lost 121 billion tons of ice, almost twice by 2014.
“With the rapidly accelerating rates at which the ice is melting… most scientists would be hard pressed to find mechanisms that do not include human-made climate change,” said Frederik Simons, associate professor of geosciences, Princeton University.
When compared to other available data, the Princeton study shows that ice is melting from West Antarctica at a far greater rate than was previously known, according to lead author Christopher Harig of Princeton University.
Harig and Simons developed a unique method to separate GRACE data by specific Antarctic regions. “The notable feature of this research is the power of their method to resolve regions geographically in gravity data,” said Robert Kopp of Rutgers University.
The study has been published in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters.
The loss of ice in Antarctica rose by 6 billion tons per year since 2004, the researchers found in their examination and they attribute the main cause to the ocean currents rather than air temperatures.
The melted ice in turn leads to higher sea levels and cause erosion of smaller islands, especially in the pacific region.