Greenland and Antarctica Ice Sheets Are Losing Billions of Tons of Mass Yearly

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Using the measurements provided by NASA’s ICESat-2 show, Ben Smith of the University of Washington, conducted a study and published his catastrophic findings of the two ice sheets in the journal Science. The study reveals that Greenland loses 200 billion tons of grounded ice per year, and Antarctica more than 100 billion.

ICESat-2 is a NASA satellite launched in 2018 with the mission to measure the changes in the ice sheets’ height and the thickness of polar sea ice. Provided highly sensitive laser technology, ICESat-2 is meant to continue the work former ICESat performed until 2009. Ben Smith’s study is one of the first made using this satellite’s data.

In the last 17 years, the global sea level increased with half an inch due to the major melting and submerging of the ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica. Now, the exact places and reasons why they are happening are clearer.

Global warming melts Greenland and Antarctica ice sheets at a fast pace

West Antarctica and the Antarctic Peninsula are the most affected areas in Antarctica. The phenomenon that induced the ice loss there is crumbling glaciers. Northwest and Southeast Greenland had the same fate but because of a different reason: surface melting.

The mass they’ve gained, although salutary, couldn’t be considered to compensate for the loss. Greenland ice sheet gained ice in the center, while Antarctica improved in its Eats region. The reasons? The study says that the central cause is the warm ocean currents are melting ice shelves. They are like the backbone of ice sheets.

They are floating platforms formed where the ice sheet flows down to the coastline and onto the surface of the ocean. If they grow weak, the ice sheet falls apart. And guess what made the ocean currents get warmer? Methane from fossil fuel should ring the right bell.

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