Dating im melting
Different conditions within the Antarctic In the Antarctic, the situation is a more complex one.Scientists distinguish between the West and East, which are being affected differently by climate change.A new study, supported by NASA and European Space Agency ESA combines the data from different satellite missions."It's the first time all the people who have estimated changes in the size of the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets using satellites over the past 20 years have got together to produce a single result," Andrew Shepherd from the University of Leeds in the UK explained in an interview with DW.Earth observation expert Shepherd is sure global warming is the only possible explanation for the accelerating polar ice melt.He sees especially the rapid melt in West Antarctica as a signal and a result of direct changes in the local balance between the ice sheet, the ocean and the atmosphere."The rate of ice loss from Greenland has increased almost five-fold since the mid-1990s", says Erik Ivins, who coordinated the project for NASA.Although the Greenland ice sheet is only about one tenth the size of Antarctica, today it is contributing twice as much ice to sea levels, according to Shepherd: "It's certainly the larger player, probably just because it is at a more equatorial latitude, further from the North pole than Antarctica from the South pole." The ice on Greenland is also melting on the surface, because of increasing air temperatures.
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It is only to be expected that the ice is melting faster here, says Shepherd.
In the huge area of East Antartica, the ice is mostly above sea level, Shepherd explains.
"We are just beginning an observational record for ice," said co-author of the study Ian Joughlin, a glaciologist at the University of Washington.
"This creates a new long-term data set that will increase as new measurements are made." But the scientists are convinced the relatively new technology is the best way to keep track of climate change in inaccessible polar regions.The air temperature is also much lower, and the experts do not expect the ice to melt on account of rising temperatures.