Sunday , January 24 2021

NASA issues new maps revealing signs that Antarctic glaciers that are considered stable are melting



NASA scientists have found signs that large glaciers in Eastern Antarctica are falling apart.

The eastern half of the continent was previously considered to be more stable than the western one.

But new ice velocity and height maps revealed that a group of glaciers, covering one eighth of Antarctica's eastern coast, are losing ice for a decade.

The findings will increase the fears that ice melting can lead to global sea level rise.

Glesiologists warned earlier that the Tetzian glacier, the fastest moving mass of ice in Eastern Antarctica, collapsed as a result of warming ocean water.

An illustration by NASA shows a map of ice velocity and height that reveals that a group of glaciers, covering one eighth of the east coast of Antarctica, are losing ice for a decade.
An illustration by NASA shows a map of ice velocity and height that reveals that a group of glaciers, covering one eighth of the east coast of Antarctica, are losing ice for a decade. (AAR)

The huge glacier holds enough water to raise the sea level by about three meters.

"Tottenham is the largest glacier in Eastern Antarctica, so it attracts much of the research focus," says Catherine Walker, head of the NASA's Goddard Space Center in Maryland, USA, who presented the findings of a meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU).

"But it turns out that other nearby glaciers react in a similar way to Totten," she added.

Researchers have found that four glaciers west of Totten in an area in front of which the Vincent Bay has fallen to an average of nearly three meters since 2008 – there was no change in elevation before this year.

An illustration by NASA shows a map of ice velocity and height that reveals that a group of glaciers, covering one eighth of the east coast of Antarctica, are losing ice for a decade.
An illustration by NASA shows a map of ice velocity and height that reveals that a group of glaciers, covering one eighth of the east coast of Antarctica, are losing ice for a decade. (AAR)

To the east of Totten, the Wilks' glaciers almost doubled their decline from around 2009, their area falling about 0.25 meters each year.

Scientists say that the level of ice loss is small compared to the glaciers in Western Antarctica, but indicates a nascent and widespread change in the east.

"This change does not seem accidental, it seems systematic," said Alex Gardner, a glacier at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

"And the systematic nature hints at the oceanic influences that are incredibly strong in Western Antarctica.

"We could now find clear connections to the ocean that are beginning to influence East Antarctica."

© AAP 2018


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