NASA found that the phenomenon is happening despite the large areas of the region that boosted their melting rate in the last decades.
The new findings are at odds with other reports including those issued by United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which stated that the Antarctic is losing land ice and contributing to global rise of sea levels.
NASA researchers said that satellite data taken between 1992 and 2008 showed the opposite. Between 1992 and 2001, Antarctic ice sheet gained on average 112 billion tons of ice annually, while between 2003 and 2008 that number slipped to 82 billion tons per year.
Jay Zwally, a glaciology expert with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, explained that the findings confirm that there are region in Antarctica that continue to hemorrhage including West Antarctica and the Antarctic peninsula.
But the data contradicts previous findings on East Antarctica and inner West Antarctica.
“Here, we see an ice gain that exceeds the losses in the other areas,”
Yet, the researcher is concerned that in a ‘few decades’ the ice gain may ‘reverse.’ NASA researchers analyzed the region’s surface ice sheet. They sifted through radar data take by a pair of European Space Agency satellites and laser data provided by the U.S. space agency’s Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite (ICESat).
Researchers explained that several millennia ago world temperatures rose and more moisture was brought to the continent. As a result, the amount of ice that dropped on the continent doubled.
And that extra snowfall helped the Antarctic ice to grow into compact layers over the millennia to come. In the meantime, Eastern parts of the continent and interior of west Antarctica add 0.7 inches of ice every year. Researcher argued that this ice gain lasted for millennia and it is also happening today. The extra ice currently translates into a large gain of ice.
But NASA researchers have another piece of good news – the melting Antarctic does not fuel global sea level rise. On the contrary, it is taking 0.23 mm of it every year. Scientists explained that IPCC reports on 0.27 mm yearly sea rise are accurate but they failed to properly identify the source. And the Antarctic is not the cause.
A paper on the findings was recently published in the Journal of Glaciology.
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