Increasing amounts of ice mass have been lost from West Antarctica and the Antarctic peninsula over the past 10 years, according to research from the University of Bristol and published online this week in Nature Geoscience.
East Antarctica remains relatively stable, but the ice lost from West Antarctica is accelerating according to the analysis of satellite images. The conclusion: In 2006, that part of the continent lost 132 billion tons of ice, up from 83 billion in 1996. The loss of ice mass on the ice sheet increased by 75% during that decade. The Antarctic Penninsula, meanwhile, lost 60 billion tons.
To put these figures into perspective, 4 billion tons of ice is enough to provide drinking water for the whole of the UK population for one year," said Jonathan Bamber of the University of Bristol.
The stable east Antarctic regions may not be stable for long, too, given thinning of the ice noted in some areas, researchers said.
While climate models considering global warming have predicted the growth of ice in some parts of the Antarctic due to increased snowfall, this study suggests that the movement of glaciers will instead lead to a loss of ice.
Enter your city or zip code to get your local temperature and air quality and find local green food and recycling resources near you.