It is the statement of Alex S. Gardner, a glaciologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Gardner co-authored a study that reveals the widest picture ever done of the melting process in Antarctica and Greenland due to global warming.
One of the most important missions of satellite ICESat-2 is to gather data about the changes occurring in the ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland. It can do so like never before, offering them a comprehensive overview instead of just pieces of the puzzle, as it was the case until now.
“Now we’ve got it all on the same map, which is a really powerful thing,” said Fricker, a glaciologist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego. “It shows a set of differences that we can really understand in detail and know what they mean for the ice sheets,” added Ben Smith, a glaciologist at the University of Washington and one of the authors of the study.
ICESat-2 Showed The Impact of Global Warming on Greenland and Antarctica
So, it seems that ICESat-2’a performance is making scientists quite happy. But it’s not the same when it comes to the truth it helps them see. The melting of grounded ice in Antarctica has increased the sea level by 6 mm while the same phenomenon in Greenland increased it by 8 mm. And that’s the change melting ice produces in a year, as per reports.
The even higher risk is that if the grounded ice continues to melt, the West Antarctica sheet will end in a major collapse over centuries, which will lead to major sea-level increases, not to mention all the other consequences that will come along.
The difference between Antarctica and Greenland is that the ice sheets are going through different processes. The devastating process that is melting the glaciers in West Antarctica and the Antarctic Peninsula is more like a chain reaction. The loss of floating ice thins the ice shelves. Ice shelves are very important in keeping the grounded ice in place. If they are thinning, they can no longer perform that task, and grounded ice flows into the water.
Antarctica’s ice loss is caused mainly by surface melting and run-off. The most affected areas of Greenland are the Northwest and Southeast. ICESat-2 revealed some good things too about the ice realm. Both Antarctica and Greenland have regions where the ice sheets are getting thicker. Mostly due to precipitation in the form of snow, the center of Greenland and East Antarctica register an increase of the ice volume. Unfortunately, this isn’t enough to compensate for the ice loss.