In 25 years, Antarctic ice has shrunk by more than 40 percent.

71 of the 162 ice shelves have released 67 billion tons of water into the oceans.

15 de October de 2023 10:31

Antarctica's winter sea ice hits record low.

New research, based largely on information from the European Space Agency's (ESA) Copernicus Sentinel-1 and CryoSat satellite missions, has revealed alarming information about the state of the Antarctic ice shelves: 40 % of these huge floating blocks has significantly reduced its volume over the last 25 years.

This finding is published in the journal 'Science Advances' and reflects a study carried out by the University of Leeds , England.

The conclusions are based on 100,000 satellite radar images that have created the assessment video that reveals the “state of health” of the Antarctic ice shelves , huge floating expanses of the continent's ice sheet that play a role crucial in stabilizing the region's glaciers, acting as buttresses and slowing the flow of ice towards the ocean.

The team has found that 71 of the 162 ice shelves around Antarctica have reduced their volume, releasing almost 67 trillion tons of meltwater into the ocean . “Apart from the problem of mass loss from ice shelves, this addition of fresh water to the ocean could have knock-on effects on ocean circulation,” ESA points out.

The authors also found that almost all ice shelves on the western side of Antarctica experienced ice loss. In contrast, most ice shelves on the eastern side remained intact or increased in mass.

A different phenomenon for each coast

“There is a mixed picture of ice shelf deterioration, and this has to do with ocean temperature and ocean currents around Antarctica,” says Benjamin Davison, a researcher at the University of Leeds and lead author of the study.“The western half is exposed to warm water, which can rapidly erode ice shelves from below, while much of East Antarctica is currently protected by a strip of cold water off the coast.”

Antarctica is a vast continent and the seas on the western side experience different currents and winds than those on the east, making the water warmer beneath the ice shelves on the western flank.

As a result, the Getz Ice Shelf experienced some of the largest ice losses, where 1.9 trillion tons of ice have been reduced over the 25-year study period. Only 5% was caused by calving, where Large chunks of ice break off the shelf and move toward the ocean. The rest was due to melting at the base of the shelf.

Similarly, 1.3 trillion tons of ice were lost on Pine Island . About a third of that loss (450 billion tons) was due to calving. The rest was due to melting of the bottom of the shelf. of ice.The picture is not the same: in Amery, on the other side of Antarctica and surrounded by much colder waters, the platform gained 1.2 billion tons of ice.

“Half of them shrink without signs of recovery.

By Agenda Malvinas

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