TMCNet:  Int'l study provides more solid measure of melting in polar ice sheets

[November 29, 2012]

Int'l study provides more solid measure of melting in polar ice sheets

WASHINGTON, Nov 29, 2012 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- An international team of satellite experts has produced more solid assessment of ice losses from Antarctica and Greenland to date, according to a study to be published Friday in journal Science.

In the study, the researchers show that melting of the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets has contributed 11.1 millimeters to global sea levels since 1992. This amounts to one fifth 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 UN. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2007, the spread of the IPCC estimate 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).

Led by Andrew Shepherd at the University of Leeds and Erik Ivins at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the study combines observations from 10 different satellite missions to develop the first consistent measurement of polar ice sheet changes.

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