The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Melting Discovered in East Antarctic Region Holding Ice 'Equivalent to Four Greenlands'
Ice sheets in Greenland and West Antarctica have been melting at alarming rates in recent years, but at least the glaciers of East Antarctica were believed to be relatively stable. Until now. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) scientists have discovered that glaciers covering one-eighth of Antarctica's eastern coast have lost ice in the past 10 years. If the region keeps melting, it has enough ice in its drainage basins to add 28 meters (approximately 92 feet) to global sea level rise, BBC News reported.
"That's the water equivalent to four Greenlands of ice," Catherine Walker from Nasa's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, who presented the new findings at the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Monday, told BBC News.
The observations were enabled by maps of the height and velocity of East Antarctic glaciers made possible by a new NASA project called Inter-mission Time Series of Land Ice Velocity and Elevation (ITS_LIVE). Using these maps, Walker discovered that the surface height of four glaciers in Vincennes Bay—Vanderford Glacier, Adams Glacier, Bond Glacier and Underwood Glacier—had decreased by around nine feet since 2008. Before that, there was no noticeable change, NASA explained in a press release.
The four glaciers are all west of Totten Glacier, the one East Antarctic glacier that scientists had studied in depth. It has also been retreating in recent years and contains enough ice to raise sea levels by 11 feet.
"Totten is the biggest glacier in East Antarctica, so it attracts most of the research focus," Walker said in the NASA release. "But once you start asking what else is happening in this region, it turns out that other nearby glaciers are responding in a similar way to Totten."
A map produced by Alex Gardner, showing the increased velocity of glaciers in East Antarctica using data from an early iteration of NASA MEaSUREs ITS_LIVE project.NASA Earth Observatory / Joshua Stevens
Walker and her team also noted changes in a group of glaciers farther east along the Wilkes Land coast. They are now lowering at twice the rate they did in 2009, to the tune of about 0.8 feet per year.
In addition to the new ice maps, Walker also used an inventive method to assess ocean temperatures in the area to confirm that warmer water was behind the glaciers' movements. She tagged marine mammals with sensors and compared the measurements with models to determine that changes in wind and sea ice were indeed conspiring to bring more warm ocean water to the Wilkes Land and Vincennes Bay glaciers.
Her NASA colleague Alex Gardner said that more findings like this were likely as projects like ITS_LIVE expand. In 2019, ITS_LIVE researchers will start a massive effort to track the world's ice, including a 30-year-database of satellite observations of surface elevation and a five-year record of ice velocity.
"I think we can anticipate that over the next five to 10 years, we're going to have a lot of observationally driven discoveries, such as what Catherine is making, because of the new data that's coming online," Gardner told BBC News.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Editor's note: The coronavirus that started in Wuhan has sickened more than 4,000 people and killed at least 100 in China as of Jan. 27, 2020. Thailand and Hong Kong each have reported eight confirmed cases, and five people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with the illness. People are hoping for a vaccine to slow the spread of the disease.
By Nancy Schimelpfening
- Nutrition experts say healthy eating is about making good choices most of the time.
- Treats like cookies can be eaten in moderation.
- Information like total calories, saturated fat, and added sugars can be used to compare which foods are relatively healthier.
- However, it's also important to savor and enjoy what you're eating so you don't feel deprived.
Yes, we know. Cookies aren't considered a "healthy" food by any stretch of the imagination.
When you see an actor in handcuffs, they're usually filming a movie. But when Jane Fonda, Ted Danson, Sally Field, and other celebrities were arrested in Washington, D.C., last fall, the only cameras rolling were from the news media.
As the Pacific Ocean becomes more acidic, Dungeness crabs, which live in coastal areas, are seeing their shells eaten away, according to a new study commissioned by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).