A floating iceberg off the Antarctic Peninsula. Photo courtesy CU-Boulder National Snow and Ice Data Center.
University of Colorado at Boulder researchers have used data from a pair of NASA satellites orbiting Earth in tandem to determine that the Antarctic ice sheet, which harbors 90 percent of Earth’s ice, has lost significant mass in recent years.
The team used measurements taken with the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment, or GRACE, to conclude the Antarctic ice sheet is losing up to 36 cubic miles of ice, or 152 cubic kilometers, annually. By comparison, the city of Los Angeles uses about 1 cubic mile of fresh water annually.
"This is the first study to indicate the total mass balance of the Antarctic ice sheet is in significant decline," said Isabella Velicogna of CU-Boulder’s Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, chief author of the new study that appears in the March 2 online issue of Science Express. The study was co-authored by CU-Boulder physics Professor John Wahr of CIRES, a joint campus institute of CU-Boulder and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Isabella Velicogna | EurekAlert!
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