Global Warming

The Gravity of Massive Antarctic Melt Revealed

So much ice has been lost due to recent accelerated melting of the Antarctic that scientists have detected small changes in Earth’s gravity field as a result.

The melt has been especially pronounced on the Antarctic Peninsula, which had shown no signs of change until 2009.

But several glaciers there have started to shed their ice since that time, dumping about 14.5 trillion gallons of water into the Southern Ocean each year.

“To date, the glaciers have added roughly 300 cubic km (72 cubic miles) of water to the ocean. That’s the equivalent of the volume of nearly 350,000 Empire State Buildings combined,” said Bristol University researcher Bert Wouters.

The changes were measured by using data from the CryoSat-2 orbiter, a mission of the European Space Agency.

A sudden and massive ice melt in a previously stable region of Antarctica has caused changes in the gravity field of Earth.


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