13 June 2018

Stunning Data From The Bottom of the World: Antarctic Ice Loss Triples

Posted by Dan Satterfield

Note the Glacier in the distance. Dan’s photo in Antarctica.

A group of over 80 researchers published some stunning data in Nature today, and it shows the ice loss in Antarctica has tripled since 1992. The loss of ice rose sea levels worldwide an average of 7.6 mm and rate of ice loss in West Antarctica has tripled since 1992! The paper was one of several in this issue of Nature and it’s worth grabbing a copy of the entire issue.

Here’s the abstract to the paper on mass balance:

Click to go to the Nature site.

Chris Mooney at the Washington Post has an excellent summary of the paper and a free to read summary of the issue from Nature is here. Kudos to CBS, CNN, the NY Times and the Wash. Post for putting this story on the front page of their on-line news sites.  I’ve also seen no false balance on these sites today and believe me, that’s the only good news about this story.

This graphics explains what is happening in Antarctica and www.AntarcticGlaciers.org is a great site to dive in and learn more. Teachers take note!

It’s worth noting here that the ice loss is not mainly from melting under sunny sky. It’s warmer ocean waters melting submerged glaciers that have moved into the ocean. Warmer water melts ice a lot faster than air or sunlight will. Having been to Antarctica, I can tell you that doing science there is difficult and dangerous but satellites are making it easier and more accurate every year.

Never forget that most of the fresh water on Earth is locked up as ice in Antarctica. When there was little ice in Antarctica, sea levels were hundreds of feet higher. Look at the graph below from the Nature paper, it pretty much speaks for itself.