Between 1997 and 2021, more than 40 percent of Antarctica’s ice shelves, which are called the guardians of this continent, decreased in area, according to research conducted by an international team of scientists. As experts emphasize, these are alarming data.
As the researchers wrote, of the 162 Antarctic ice shelves, 68 decreased significantly in mass between 1997 and 2021. The article published in “Science Advances” also shows that 62 glaciers have not changed at all, and 29 have increased their area.
Ice shelves are floating extensions of ice sheets. They act as “guardians” and stop the ice on the continent from melting.
“Knowing exactly how ice loss occurs from ice shelves is a critical step in understanding Antarctic evolution,” said Ted Scambos, a scientist at the University of Colorado who was not involved in the study.
The latest study shows that Antarctic ice shelves have lost about 7.5 trillion tons of mass in 25 years.
Ice shelves are losing mass
The study’s lead author, Benjamin Davison, a glaciologist at the University of Leeds in the UK, noted that a large part of the Wordie Ice Shelf broke away from Antarctica in 1989. Since 1997, it has lost 87 percent of its weight. Neighboring Larsen A lost 73%. its weight, and Larsen B – 57 percent. The largest of the ice shelves, Larsen C, has lost 1.7 trillion tons of ice, or about one-eighth of its mass.
The greatest loss of ice mass occurs on the Thwaites Ice Shelf, known as the “doomsday glacier”. Its disappearance from the Earth’s surface could raise global sea level by up to 65 centimeters. It has already lost 70 percent. its mass since 1997 – about 3.7 trillion tons of ice mass.
The ice shelves that have increased in mass are mostly on the eastern side of the continent, where there is a weather pattern that isolates the land from warmer waters, Davison said.
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