Featured Image: TIME
By: Nazifa Islam
So is Antarctica losing or gaining ice? This a question that has had extensive research done on it.
In October of 2014, NASA reported that the Antarctic sea ice has reached a new record maximum. This past week a research team from the University of Edinburgh discovered new information on West Antarctica’s coastline that may surprise NASA…
This recent study, published in Geophysical Research Letters, claims that Antarctica is not gaining ice, but in fact losing it. And just how much is really being lost?
Contrary to NASA’s report, it has been known for years that Antarctica has been losing small amounts of ice to the coastline. But, the actual amount is greater than anyone could have ever imagined.
Research shows that it has lost about 386 square miles of ice, in only the past 40 years. That area is almost equivalent to the city of Berlin!
Thanks to satellite images, researchers are able to track its progression from when this initially began – much longer than previously expected. The team found that ice has been retreating consistently along the entire coastline since the start of the satellite records.
The data also helped them look at ice thickness and thinning rates. They discovered that some of the largest changes, where ice rapidly thinned and retreated several miles since 1975, correspond to where the ice front is deepest.
There could be many explanations to why this would occur. The significant loss of ice could be caused by warmer ocean waters reaching Antarctica’s coastline, rather than rising air temperatures.
It is hoped that these findings will help improve estimates of global sea level rise caused by ice melting.
More information can be found here.