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 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!
Gas hydrate research: Advanced knowledge and new technologies
23.03.2018 | Helmholtz-Zentrum Potsdam - Deutsches GeoForschungsZentrum GFZ
New technologies and computing power to help strengthen population data
22.03.2018 | University of Southampton
Satellites in near-Earth orbit are at risk due to the steady increase in space debris. But their mission in the areas of telecommunications, navigation or weather forecasts is essential for society. Fraunhofer FHR therefore develops radar-based systems which allow the detection, tracking and cataloging of even the smallest particles of debris. Satellite operators who have access to our data are in a better position to plan evasive maneuvers and prevent destructive collisions. From April, 25-29 2018, Fraunhofer FHR and its partners will exhibit the complementary radar systems TIRA and GESTRA as well as the latest radar techniques for space observation across three stands at the ILA Berlin.
The "traffic situation" in space is very tense: the Earth is currently being orbited not only by countless satellites but also by a large volume of space...
An international team of researchers has discovered a new anti-cancer protein. The protein, called LHPP, prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver. The researchers led by Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, report in “Nature” that LHPP can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer.
The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is steadily increasing. In the last twenty years, the number of cases has almost doubled...
In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.
Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...
Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.
They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...
A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...
23.03.2018 | Event News
19.03.2018 | Event News
16.03.2018 | Event News
23.03.2018 | Materials Sciences
23.03.2018 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
23.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy