Thursday, August 21, 2014

Greenland ice loss doubles from late 2000s

The change in height of Greenland's ice sheet between January 2011 and January 2014. (Credit: (c) Helm et al., The Cryosphere, 2014) Click to enlarge.
A new assessment from Europe's CryoSat spacecraft shows Greenland to be losing about 375 cu km (90 cu miles) of ice each year.

Added to the discharges coming from Antarctica, it means Earth's two big ice sheets are now dumping roughly 500 cu km (120 cu miles) of ice in the oceans annually.

"The contribution of both ice sheets together to sea level rise has doubled since 2009," said Angelika Humbert from Germany's Alfred Wegener Institute.

"To us, that's an incredible number," she told BBC News.

In its report to The Cryosphere journal, the AWI team does not actually calculate a sea-level rise equivalent number, but if this volume is considered to be all ice (a small part will be snow) then the contribution is likely to be on the order of just over a millimeter (0.05 in) per year.

This is the latest study to use the precision altimetry data being gathered by the European Space Agency's CryoSat platform.

The satellite was launched in 2010 with a sophisticated radar instrument specifically designed to measure the shape of the polar ice sheets.

Greenland ice loss doubles from late 2000s

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