antarctica.001

Another important NASA study that comes from pointing downward rather than outward

Gravity Data Show That Antarctic Ice Sheet Is Melting Increasingly Faster
[Via Scientific Blogging]

Antarctica’s massive ice sheet has recently lost twice the amount of ice in the west as what it  accumulated in the east, and the southern continent’s ice cap is melting ever faster, according to a new study in which researchers “weighed” Antarctica’s ice sheet using gravitational satellite data and found that from 2003 to 2014, the ice sheet lost 92 billion tons of ice per year.

If stacked on the island of Manhattan, that amount of ice would be a mile high, more than five times the height of the Empire State Building.

[More]

There is no real way to observe Antarctica but from space. It is really too remote and inhospitable for any other approach. In this work they essentially measured the weight of the ice over Antarctica over time, seeing huge amounts of mass disappear.

So here we have another NASA satellite making measurements and collecting data by observing the Earth from space. This provides us data we cannot get any other way.

That data are showing that not only is the total ice from Antarctica melting but it is doing it at increasing rates. It is the ice shelfs that are melting first but they are what holds back the ice on land.

Lose the ice shelfs and the ice on the land falls into the sea, really wreaking havoc. It raises the sea level, causing more ice to melt more rapidly.

Yet, this is the sort of work many politicians would prevent NASA from performing. As though somehow not gathering the data will prevent the melting.

Or the consequences.

Image: NASA/Goddard