News That Matters

Tag: Antarctica

Antarctica loses three trillion tonnes of ice in 25 years

Antarctica loses three trillion tonnes of ice in 25 years

Science
Antarctica is shedding ice at an accelerating rate. Satellites monitoring the state of the White Continent indicate some 200 billion tonnes a year are now being lost to the ocean as a result of melting. This is pushing up global sea levels by 0.6mm annually - a three-fold increase since 2012 when the last such assessment was undertaken. Scientists report the new numbers in the journal Nature.Governments will need to take account of the information and its accelerating trend as they plan future defences to protect low-lying coastal communities. The researchers say the losses are occurring predominantly in the West of the continent, where warm waters are getting under and melting the fronts of glaciers that terminate in the ocean. ...
Giant canyons discovered in Antarctica

Giant canyons discovered in Antarctica

Science
Media playback is unsupported on your device Scientists have discovered three vast canyons in one of the last places to be explored on Earth - under the ice at the South Pole. The deep troughs run for hundreds of kilometres, cutting through tall mountains - none of which are visible at the snowy surface of the continent. Dr Kate Winter from Northumbria University, UK, and colleagues found the hidden features with radar. Her team says the canyons play a key role in controlling the flow of ice. And if Antarctica thins in a warming climate, as scientists suspect it will, then these channels could accelerate mass towards the ocean, further raising sea-levels. "These troughs channelise ice from the centre of the continent, taking it towards the coa...
Antarctica 'gives ground to the ocean'

Antarctica 'gives ground to the ocean'

Science
Scientists now have their best view yet of where Antarctica is giving up ground to the ocean as some its biggest glaciers are eaten away from below by warm water. Researchers using Europe's Cryosat radar spacecraft have traced the movement of grounding lines around the continent. These are the places where the fronts of glaciers that flow from the land into the ocean start to lift and float. The new study reveals an area of seafloor the size of Greater London that was previously in contact with ice is now free of it. The report, which covers the period from 2010 to 2016, is published in the journal Nature Geoscience. "What we're able to do now with Cryosat is put the behaviour of retreating glaciers in a much wider context," said Dr Hannes Konrad from the University of Leeds, UK. "Our meth...
'Supercolony' of Adelie penguins discovered in Antarctica

'Supercolony' of Adelie penguins discovered in Antarctica

World
A “supercolony” of Adélie penguins has been found on a remote chain of rocky islands in the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, according to a new study published today in the journal Scientific Reports. The small, Antarctic native had thought to be in decline for the past 40 years due to climate change. Scientists looking at satellite images in 2014 saw telltale signs of guano stains (bird poop) which hinted at a large number of penguins. An expedition was arranged with people from Stony Brook University, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), Louisiana State University and Oxford University to count the birds. When researchers arrived in December 2015, they found hundreds of thousands of birds thriving in the Danger Islands, a forbidding location with treacherous waters fil
Massive iceberg breaks off in Antarctica

Massive iceberg breaks off in Antarctica

Technology
The event, captured by satellite, happened sometime in the past few days when the giant chunk snapped off an ice shelf. While such "calving" of icebergs is not unusual, this is an especially big one. It covers an area of roughly 2,300 square miles (6,000 square kilometers), more than twice the size of Luxembourg. Its volume is twice that of Lake Erie, according to Project MIDAS, a research group based in Britain. It broke loose from the Larsen C ice shelf, which scientists had been monitoring for months as they watched a crack grow more than 120 miles (200 kilometers) long. Scientists say global warming has caused a thinning of such shelves, but they differ on whether the latest event can be blamed on climate change. The iceberg is considered unlikely to pose any threat to shipping. And s...