Since 2009, various studies that have been conducted from the European Space Agency satellite systems continue to conclude that the melting Antarctic polar ice is taking its toll globally. A major observation taken from the ESA’s Cryosat satellite that covered a three year period between 2009 and 2012 discovered that the continuous loss of ice in the western region of Antarctica has created a dip in the earth’s gravitational field. Upon its second observational voyage beginning in January 2011 and returning in January 2014, the Cryosat Satellite took 200 measurements. The combined yearly ice melting from Greenland and the Antarctic alone are about the size of an iceberg spanning the entire Manhattan Island.
The resulting calculations lead a group of researchers from The Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany to discover the Antarctic ice sheets to be shrinking by a calculated volume of 125 cubic kilometers a year. In order to reach these calculations two satellite’s were used. The ESA’s high gravity resolution satellite measurement had cooperated with a joint German and United States satellite called GRACE which operates in a lower resolution analytical process.
The derived evidence has led them to believe that there is a 30 percent probability the ice loss from the sector could be causing a rise to sea levels at the rate of 2 millimeters per year. A less likely 5 percent chance of a single millimeter sea level rise has also been analyzed. There has been some concern surrounding the possibility of the Amundsen Sea being de-glaciered contributing to the rising sea at a faster pace.
At the calculated rate observed in the vast Western region, the amount of ice sheets melting causes researches to estimate global sea levels to reach 50 inches by mid-century. This measurement process has only scaled a section of the frozen ice lands with hope to cover the rest of the Antarctic continent in the near future.
It seems that billions of tons of melted ice have only made a minor rift in the earth’s gravity field but it is strong evidence of the effects of global warming. S.C.A.R or The Scientific Committee of Antarctic Research has announced observations of growing changes in the climate surrounding Antarctica. The southern ocean ecosystems are reacting to the warming waters and are producing an expansion of plant communities as observed by S.C.A.R’s paleo-climate study.
Additional issues surrounding the melting ice are the habitats of marine life. The warming waters are declining the krill stocks while in other areas the phytoplankton’s are also showing signs of a declining population.
The future of the ice lands have yet to be determined but will probably be seen over the next 100 hundred years. The use of models surrounding the environmental conditions is currently being used to calculate and improve upon the future projection given the current trends. Although not entirely accurate, these models have aided in speculative simple projections over larger parameters and they are currently the only tool helping gain a perspective on future environmental behaviors and more accurate assessment with improved models and wider scaling of the Antarctic.
by Ernesto Perez