Massive ice sheets melting ‘at rate of 300bn tonnes a year’, climate satellite shows

The Independent reports: A satellite that measures gravity fluctuations on Earth due to changes in the massive ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica has detected a rapid acceleration in the melting of glacier ice over the past decade, which could have a dramatic impact on sea levels around the world.

The sheets are losing around 300 billion tonnes of ice a year, the research indicates.

However, scientists have warned that the measurements gathered since 2002 by the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (Grace) flying in space are still too short-term for accurate predictions of how much ice will be lost in the coming decades, and therefore how rapidly sea levels will rise.

“In the course of the mission, it has become apparent that ice sheets are losing substantial amounts of ice – about 300 billion tonnes a year – and that the rate at which these losses occurs is increasing,” said Bert Wouters of Bristol University’s Glaciology Centre.

“Compared to the first few years of the Grace mission, the ice sheets’ contribution to sea-level rise has almost doubled in recent years,” added Dr Wouters, the lead author of the study published in the Earth sciences journal Nature Geoscience. [Continue reading…]

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