NASA says that the ice in Antarctica is growing, but does this mean it's safe from climate change?
Recent years have seen a wave of studies suggesting that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is in serious trouble thanks to climate change, but researchers at NASA have just stated that the net amount of ice on the continent has increased. According to a report from Business Standard, a study from NASA researchers has found that the continent is forming more ice than is lost from melting glaciers.
The study examined a period between 1992 and 2001, and found that the continent showed a net gain of 112 billion tons of ice each year. Between 2003 and 2008, the rate of growth slowed to just 82 billion tons of ice every year.
According to Jay Zwally, a researcher from the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, the growth is not likely to persist in the coming years. He fears that it may only take a few decades before the gains to the ice mass are lost.
Zwally and his research team examined data from 1979 on and found that snowfall in East Antarctica decreased at a rate of 11 billion tons every year during both the European Remote Sensing and NASA earth Observing System periods.
The study also showed that based on snow accumulation data spanning back thousands of years, the ice sheet on East Antarctica continues to thicken. The coastal regions, however, lose roughly 65 billion tons of ice every year.
This net gain in ice cover is good news for people concerned about sea level rise. Zwally reasons that the ice actually reduces annual sea level rise by 0.23 millimeters. The study, published in the Journal of Glaciology, suggests that there may be more to the sea level rise equation than meets the eye.
A press release from NASA describing the study’s findings can be found here.