Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Clearest evidence yet of polar ice losses

30.11.2012
After two decades of satellite observations, an international team of experts brought together by ESA and NASA has produced the most accurate assessment of ice losses from Antarctica and Greenland to date. This study finds that the combined rate of ice sheet melting is increasing.

The new research shows that melting of the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets has added 11.1 mm to global sea levels since 1992. This amounts to about 20% of all sea-level rise over the survey period.

About two thirds of the ice loss was from Greenland, and the remainder was from Antarctica.

Although the ice sheet losses fall within the range reported by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007, the spread of the estimate at that time was so broad that it was not clear whether Antarctica was growing or shrinking.

The new estimates are a vast improvement – more than twice as accurate – thanks to the inclusion of more satellite data, and confirm that both Antarctica and Greenland are losing ice.

The study also shows that the combined rate of ice sheet melting has increased over time and, altogether, Greenland and Antarctica are now losing more than three times as much ice, equivalent to 0.95 mm of sea-level rise per year, as they were in the 1990s, equivalent to 0.27 mm of sea level rise per year.

The 47 experts combined observations from 10 different satellite missions to reconcile the differences between dozens of earlier ice sheet studies and produce the first consistent measurement of polar ice sheet changes.

Earth observation satellites are key to monitoring the polar ice because they carry instruments that measure changes in the thickness of the ice sheets, fluctuations in the speed of the outlet glaciers and even small changes in Earth’s gravity field caused by melting ice.

As outlined in the paper ‘A Reconciled Estimate of Ice Sheet Mass Balance’ published today in Science, the researchers carefully matched time periods and survey areas, and combined measurements from European, Canadian, American and Japanese satellites.

The measurement were acquired by instruments such as the radar altimeters and synthetic aperture radars flown on ESA’s ERS-1, ERS-2 and Envisat missions from 1991.

“The success of this venture is due to the cooperation of the international scientific community, and to the provision of precise satellite sensors by our space agencies,” said Professor Andrew Shepherd from the University of Leeds and one of the leaders of the study.

“Without these efforts, we would not be in a position to tell people with confidence how Earth’s ice sheets have changed, and to end the uncertainty that has existed for many years.”

The study also found variations in the pace of ice sheet change in Antarctica and Greenland.

“The rate of ice loss from Greenland has increased almost five-fold since the mid-1990s.

“In contrast, while the regional changes in Antarctic ice over time are sometimes quite striking, the overall balance has remained fairly constant – at least within the certainty of the satellite measurements we have to hand,” said co-leader of the study Dr Erik Ivins from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

The Ice Sheet Mass Balance Inter-comparison Exercise is a collaboration between 47 researchers from 26 laboratories, supported by ESA and NASA.

Europe’s Global Monitoring for Environment and Security programme will continue to monitor changes in the polar ice sheets during the coming decades, with the SAR and radar altimeter sensors on the Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-3 satellite series, scheduled to be launched from 2013 onwards.

Robert Meisner | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.esa.int

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Small- and mid-sized cities particularly vulnerable
29.09.2016 | Universität Stuttgart

nachricht Tracking the amount of sea ice from the Greenland ice sheet
28.09.2016 | Ca' Foscari University of Venice

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New welding process joins dissimilar sheets better

Friction stir welding is a still-young and thus often unfamiliar pressure welding process for joining flat components and semi-finished components made of light metals.
Scientists at the University of Stuttgart have now developed two new process variants that will considerably expand the areas of application for friction stir welding.
Technologie-Lizenz-Büro (TLB) GmbH supports the University of Stuttgart in patenting and marketing its innovations.

Friction stir welding is a still-young and thus often unfamiliar pressure welding process for joining flat components and semi-finished components made of...

Im Focus: First quantum photonic circuit with electrically driven light source

Optical quantum computers can revolutionize computer technology. A team of researchers led by scientists from Münster University and KIT now succeeded in putting a quantum optical experimental set-up onto a chip. In doing so, they have met one of the requirements for making it possible to use photonic circuits for optical quantum computers.

Optical quantum computers are what people are pinning their hopes on for tomorrow’s computer technology – whether for tap-proof data encryption, ultrafast...

Im Focus: OLED microdisplays in data glasses for improved human-machine interaction

The Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP has been developing various applications for OLED microdisplays based on organic semiconductors. By integrating the capabilities of an image sensor directly into the microdisplay, eye movements can be recorded by the smart glasses and utilized for guidance and control functions, as one example. The new design will be debuted at Augmented World Expo Europe (AWE) in Berlin at Booth B25, October 18th – 19th.

“Augmented-reality” and “wearables” have become terms we encounter almost daily. Both can make daily life a little simpler and provide valuable assistance for...

Im Focus: Artificial Intelligence Helps in the Discovery of New Materials

With the help of artificial intelligence, chemists from the University of Basel in Switzerland have computed the characteristics of about two million crystals made up of four chemical elements. The researchers were able to identify 90 previously unknown thermodynamically stable crystals that can be regarded as new materials. They report on their findings in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters.

Elpasolite is a glassy, transparent, shiny and soft mineral with a cubic crystal structure. First discovered in El Paso County (Colorado, USA), it can also be...

Im Focus: Complex hardmetal tools out of the 3D printer

For the first time, Fraunhofer IKTS shows additively manufactured hardmetal tools at WorldPM 2016 in Hamburg. Mechanical, chemical as well as a high heat resistance and extreme hardness are required from tools that are used in mechanical and automotive engineering or in plastics and building materials industry. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS in Dresden managed the production of complex hardmetal tools via 3D printing in a quality that are in no way inferior to conventionally produced high-performance tools.

Fraunhofer IKTS counts decades of proven expertise in the development of hardmetals. To date, reliable cutting, drilling, pressing and stamping tools made of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

HLF: From an experiment to an establishment

29.09.2016 | Event News

European Health Forum Gastein 2016 kicks off today

28.09.2016 | Event News

Laser use for neurosurgery and biofabrication - LaserForum 2016 focuses on medical technology

27.09.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

New Multiferroic Materials from Building Blocks

29.09.2016 | Materials Sciences

Silicon Fluorescent Material Developed Enabling Observations under a Bright “Biological Optical Window”

29.09.2016 | Materials Sciences

X-shape Bio-inspired Structures

29.09.2016 | Interdisciplinary Research

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>