Ice melt increases at both Poles

By Dave Armstrong - 06 Sep 2014 9:22:16 GMT
Ice melt increases at both Poles

Did you feel the ice move, Yongyut, or was I just watching the aurora too long? Aurora borealis image; Credit: © Shutterstock

Satellite mapping with accuracy down to a few metres is responsible for the paper produced by Veit Helm, Angelika Humbert and H Miller of the Alfred Wegener Institute in Bremerhaven. The worrying results of careful measurement between 2011 and 2014 is a reported loss of 503km3 every year from the Greenland and Antarctica ice sheets. As we approach the time when increase/decrease in Arctic ice is reported, it will be interesting to see if this year has achieved any gain or loss compared to records. We noted the lowest area of sea ice in the Arctic here in 2012 as - Arctic Ice at Record Low, while there was a slight rise last year.

CryoSat-2 is a specialised satellite from the European Space Agency (ESA) which travels much closer than is normal to both poles (to 88 degrees), to measure16 million km2 of the ice sheets. In particular, its altimeter measurement is critical as no other system measures polar ice since ENVISAT was lost in 2012.

West Antarctica is currently losing ice at 3 times its previous rate between 2003 and 2009, while a surprising but short-term thickening of ice has been taking place in the east. Greenland has a similar rate of loss at 2.5 times the earlier period. Most loss of elevation in the ice took place on the western and SE coasts. This Greenland ice contributed 75% of the total loss.

How will regional sea-levels change in response to this melting ice. The answer would seem to be obvious, but Antarctica, for example, is experiencing greater rises in levels than the rest of us. The ice loss is the greatest ever recorded from a land that has, till now, been covered with 98% of ice and snow. We can presume the continent will be the first to see effects of sea-level rise.

The glaciological threesome report their findings in the journal, The Cryosphere as- Elevation and elevation change of Greenland and Antarctica derived from CryoSat-2.