The Changing Antarctica Finally Revealed After Decades Of Satellite Monitoring

Scientists have been closely monitoring the changing Antarctica through the satellite imaging for several decades. The glaciers, sea ice, and the ice shelves are undergoing massive changes with every passing year due to various factors. The scientists have finally revealed the reasons behind the thinning and melting of the enormous chunk of ice in this beautiful white continent. The changing Antarctica has been the hot topic of global discussion for years now as it is heavily contributing to global warming and the rise in sea level. Previously there used to be ship-based observation, but Antarctica is too big to monitor from the land. Unless the overall picture is available, it is difficult to put all the dots in their right places to come to a conclusion. 

The Trends Of The Changing White Continent –

In the west of Antarctica, the ice shelves are melting due to the warm ocean water. Those that are situated on the Amundsen and Bellingshausen have thinned by nearly 18% since the early 1900s. In the Antarctic Peninsula, the ice shelves are collapsing due to the rise in the air temperature quite sharply and melting the surfaces of the shelves. Till date, almost 34,000 square kilometres of ice shelf covered area has been dissolved since the early 1950s. The thinning and collapsing of the ice shelves have not directly contributed to the rise in the sea level that significantly as they mostly float on water. But these occurrences are exposing glaciers which are a direct contributor to the significant increase in sea level over the decades. 

The ice shelf thinning in the Amundsen Sea is progressing at around 6 meters per year, and it has made Pine Island and Thwaites glaciers vulnerable and unstable. If these glaciers melt, there could be a massive rise of water level by one meter in that sea.

Other Significant Observations Via Satellite Monitoring – 

The scientists have been able to map the detailed picture of the sea ice cover with various detailed parameters. They have considered climatic variability, oceanic circulation, and ice shelf thinning as the primary reasons for the regional changes observed in Antarctica. These changes include the reduction in sea ice, melting of glaciers, and rise in the sea level. In fact, it is this reduction in the sea ice that is responsible for the rise in temperature. The sea ice reflects the sunlight back to space keeping the planet cool. Another significant observation is that currently, Antarctica has enough water surrounded by the ice sheet that they can lead to a rise of global sea level by 50 meters.