Just a few years ago, it was theorized that Antarcticcontinental ice might begin to melt significantly by the endof this century. It has just been discovered that massive,unexpected melt is taking place right now. Satellitemeasurements show that the Antarctic is losing over 70 cubicmiles of ice per year, enough to cause the salinity of thesouthern ocean to drop dramatically, resulting in even morewarming and melt. The melting of the Antarctic would raiseworld sea levels by a hundred and twenty feet. Even themelting of 25% of the land-based ice would cause a six footsea level increase, devastating low lying areas worldwide,and rendering cities as diverse as New York, Amsterdam,Rotterdam, London and many others all but unlivable.
Robert Roy Britt writes in LiveScience.com that Antarctica,which is twice the size of Australia, is losing some 36cubic miles of ice every year. The South Pole has 90% of theEarth?s ice and 70% of its fresh water. An ice sheet a milethick covers 98% percent of the continent.
In bbcnews, Richard Black reports that this data is comingfrom a pair of satellites known as Grace, which orbit theEarth together, measuring changes in the gravitationalfield. When they fly over areas where the crust is thick(such as mountains), they register a tiny increase in gravity.
This new information is confusing because 2001 computermodels showed that Antarctica actually would gain ice thiscentury due to increased rainfall due to global warming. Butthe new information from these satellites shows the oppositewill happen?and is happening right now.
Art credit: gimp-savvy.com
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