NASA scientists on alert for accelerating loss of platforms and ice in Antarctica (what could happen)

Two studies were conducted by Researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory They warned of the acceleration of the loss of the Antarctic ice shelves, which, in their opinion, will affect the global rise in sea level, since the ice sheet of the white continent “has lost its mass in recent decades”, with the film “Iceberg Calvings”. Doubling previous estimates.

The first works published in the magazine “Nature” are a kind of map where “How an iceberg broke off” was shown. (Ice separation from an ice front) The Antarctic coast has changed in the last 25 years”, with the edge of the ice sheet separating into these frozen forms “faster than it can be replaced”.

Separately, the second work, published in Earth System Science Data, shows in great detail How is the Antarctic ice thinning, As ocean waters melt, it has spread from the outer edges of the continent to its interior, and has nearly doubled in the western portions of the ice sheet in the past decade.”

melting more

Chad Green, the study’s lead author and JPL scientist, described what’s happening in Antarctica: “Antarctica is collapsing.” “When the ice shelves shrink and weaken, the massive glaciers on the continent tend to accelerate and increase the rate of global sea level rise,” he noted.

As the scientists warned, “most Antarctic glaciers flow into the ocean, where they end up in floating ice sheets up to 3 kilometers (2 mi) thick and 800 kilometers (500 mi) wide.” Ice shelves are struts. One of these structures “prevents ice from simply sliding into the ocean”.

However, when these formations are “stable, they have a natural birth-regeneration cycle that keeps their size fairly constant over the long term”, but in recent decades “Rising ocean temperatures have destabilized the Antarctic ice shelves By dissolving it from below, making it thinner and weaker.”

Read also: NASA video shows huge ozone hole growth in Antarctica in 2021

To detect this situation on the white continent, the researchers used satellite altimeters that were able to measure the process of ice thinning by measuring its changing height. however, Until this study, satellite images had not been used. For this kind of analysis, because “it was difficult to explain.”

“For example, you can imagine looking at a satellite image and trying to tell the difference between a white iceberg, a white ice shelf, white sea ice, and even a white cloud. This has always been a difficult task,” said Green, who pointed out, as he pointed out. “We now have enough data from multiple satellite sensors To see a clear picture of how the Antarctic coast has evolved in recent years.”

According to experts, in this study they have been compiling satellite images of the continent “in visible, thermal (thermal) and radar infrared wavelengths since 1997”; Additionally, they combined these measurements “By understanding ice flow gained from a NASA glacier mapping projectand mapping the edges of ice shelves about 30,000 linear miles (50,000 km) off the Antarctic coast.”

The findings alerted experts, with natal losses so far exceeding the natural growth of the ice shelf that “It is unlikely that Antarctica will be able to grow again to its pre-2000 extent by the end of this century.” Moreover, they confirmed that this information indicates that Bigger losses can be expected: the largest ice shelves in Antarctica They seem to be heading toward major birthing events in the next 10 to 20 years.”

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The scientists warned that “this discovery doubles previous estimates of ice loss from floating ice shelves in Antarctica since 1997, from 6 billion to 12 billion metric tons,” with The loss of ice from birth has weakened the ice shelves It has allowed Antarctic glaciers to flow more rapidly into the ocean, accelerating the global rate of sea level rise.”

Map of Antarctica ice loss

As for the second work, which scholars called “the complementary,” it was based on an analysis of Nearly 3 billion data points from seven tools Spaceborne altimetry data to produce the longest continuous data set on ice sheet altitude change, an indicator of ice loss, since 1985.” To obtain this information, the researchers had to “compile and analyze the huge files of measurements into a single high-resolution data set that took years of Work and thousands of hours of computation time on NASA servers.”

To obtain this information, the scientists used “radar and laser measurements of ice height, to a resolution of centimeters,” and in this way were able to “produce monthly maps of the change in ice loss at the highest resolution ever made.” In this sense, the scientists explained that the data collected allowed them to see “how long-term trends and annual weather patterns affect ice,” which in addition, Shows the rise and fall of the ice sheet as subglacial lakes fill up And they regularly dump miles below the surface.”

Read also: The huge piece of ice the size of London that broke off from Antarctica and why it is interesting to science

“Small changes like this, along with a better understanding of long-term trends from this data set, will help researchers understand the processes that influence ice loss, which will lead to better future estimates of sea level rise,” said lead author of the study and JPL member Johan Nilsson.

“Condensing the data into something useful on a larger scale can bring us closer to the breakthroughs we need To better understand our planet and helping us prepare for the future impacts of climate change.”

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