Glaciers Melting Faster Than Expected In Western Antarctica

Global warming is endangering the Poles. With climate change comes warm temperatures, and this is cause for concern for both scientists and environmentalists. There are reports of glaciers melting faster than expected in parts of Western Antarctica.

Researchers from the University of California, Irvine and NASA that glaciers are retreating fast in Western Antarctica. The rate at which the glaciers are retreating is fast, the fastest ever seen for any glacier, as Science Daily notes.

The glaciers that have been studied are the Smith, Pope and Kohler glaciers. All three glaciers flow into the Dotson and Crosson ice shelves which have the most noticeable amount of ice loss over the years. Glacier and ice melting could cause a rise in ocean levels in the coming decades, as many environmentalists warn.

"Our primary question is how the Amundsen Sea sector of West Antarctica will contribute to sea level rise in the future," said Bernd Scheuchl, lead author of the two studies being made. He noted that there have been great changes in the area in the past decades which show the alarming rate of ice melt.

Satellite data has been used in the observation. The satellite data shows that the glaciers continue to experience a decline, which is could add to sea levels. The satellite data used came from the ERS-1 and ERS-2 satellites of the ESA Sentinel-1 mission, as Phys Org notes. Through the data, it has been observed that the glaciers are starting to move inland, away from the shoreline.

The Smith glacier experienced the greatest retreat, going to about two kilometers per year in its retreat since 1996. The Pope glacier has retreated more slowly with an average retreat of 0.5 kilometers per year. Kohler's glacier experienced the slowest retreat and has actually readvanced for 2 kilometers since 2011.

Other Studies On Glaciers Melting Faster Than Expected

Other studies are being made on the retreat of glaciers. Ala Khazendar is a co-author of Scheuchl and has made his own study on the issue. By his study, the Smith glacier has been retreating at a rate of 70 meters per year. He said that the thinning has been large, as he had used two different techniques to measure ice loss on the glacier.

Studies are being made on other glaciers and whether they behave the same way as the three glaciers being studied. With the glaciers melting faster than expected in Western Antarctica, it is important to know how much is being lost that could possibly add to rising sea levels. As our oceans warm, studies show that planktons are also coming out earlier.

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