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Antarctica’s Huge Ice Loss Explained by the Researchers

Update Date: Nov 30, 2015 10:25 AM EST
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The team researching the East Antarctic Ice Sheet (EAIS) studied different elevations and concluded that the the speedy thinning of the glacier happened in the recent geological past and has continued for many centuries. As per the satellite observations, parts of the Antarctic ice sheet have melted because of the warming oceans. The biggest concern here is the instability of the marine ice sheet, where the retreating ice margins can lead to deepening valleys causing continued and unstable loss of ice, as reported by Phys.org.

This new research is conducted and led by Postdoctoral Research Fellow Dr. Richard Jones. He suggests that the process that causes the instability can be started by just slight warming of the climate. "The finding is very important for predicting Antarctica's future contribution to sea level change," says Dr. Jones. "Particularly when considering that the EAIS contains enough vulnerable ice to raise sea level by tens of meters. "It might only require a small amount of climate variation to initiate runaway ice loss, and it could continue for centuries to millennia," says Dr. Jones, according to Phys.org.

Even though this process has been studied for many years, the new research offers evidence that has been directly recorded that ice thinning happened in the past. As a result, fresh insight has opened up into the future behavior of parts of Antarctica that have been changing rapidly. The most important strength of the study was found in the numerical modelling experiments that imitate retreats of the glaciers and combined with geological data that recorded lowering of ice surface. "Most research has previously focused on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, which makes these observations from East Antarctica all the more significant," says Dr. Jones. His research has been published in the journal Nature Communications, reports Victoria, University of Wellington.

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