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Climate change : Eisverlust the Antarctic is accelerating dramatically

The Antarctic is losing known according to one study, significantly more ice cream than before. An international team of researchers comes to the conclusion that the annual Eisverlust has increased six-fold since the 1980s. Is not affected, therefore, only the West Antarctic, but surprisingly, also the long as a rather stable force-East of the continent. Cause movements especially warmer sea, as the Team led by Eric Rignot of the University of California, Irvine, in the "Proceedings" of the US National Academy of Sciences ("PNAS").

From earlier studies it is known that the Antarctic is losing a lot of ice, which contributes to sea level rise. Previously, scientists thought, however, that especially the Western part of Antarctica is affected, as well as the narrow Antarctic Peninsula which extends far to the North in the direction of South America.

the Antarctic is losing about 250 million tons of ice per year

The Team Rignot calculated to ice thickness, among other things, data, flow velocity and gravity, a balance sheet for 176 pond at the edge of the Antarctic ice sheet. With the help of these results, the researchers then determined the mass loss of the entire ice sheet from 1979 to 2017. Accordingly, he lost in the first decade (1979-1990) every year approximately 40 billion tons (gigatons). In the following decade (1989-2000) were therefore about 50 gigatons, in the decade after that (1999-2009) 166 gigatons. In the last period (2009-2017) the Team even from a loss in mass of 252 billion tons per year. For comparison: The lake contains almost 50 billion tons of water.

The current value exceeds the Numbers that had been presented to a group of researchers last June in the journal "Nature". This Team went out in the period from 2012 to 2017, from a loss of 219 billion tons per year. "In comparison to previous studies, the data was expanded in the basis of flow velocities, and thus to the Eisausfluss," explained Martin Horwath, Professor of geodetic earth system research at the Technical University of Dresden. Thus, mass balances could be estimated back to the year 1979. This is the entire period for which the surface mass balance could be calculated in a good quality from a regional atmosphere model.

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More attention for the East Antarctic

The researchers Rignot calculate in "PNAS", that the Eisverlust let the sea level from 1979 to 2017 to about 14 mm increase. 6.9 millimetres fall on the Western Antarctic, 2.5 mm on the Antarctic Peninsula and 4.4 mm on the East Antarctic plateau.

"This is, so to speak, only the tip of the iceberg," says Rignot. Melting of the Antarctic ice sheet continue to be expected in the coming centuries, a sea level rise of several meters alone through the Antarctic. The study is the longest to the ice mass of Antarctica.

"According to the state of the science, the glaciers speed up, because the upstream ice shelves lose weight," says Horwath. This will, in turn, associated with increased contact of these ice shelves with warm circumpolar deep water in the connection. The researchers Rignot observed that the Eisverlust concentrated on those areas, ranging from warm, salt and deep water have been achieved. In East Antarctica, in particular in the area of Wilke land is affected accordingly.

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climate change less stable than assumed: also in East Antarctica, the ice

Susanne Ehlerding

melts "Our observations challenge the traditional view according to which the East Antarctic ice sheet is stable against a change immune", they write. Therefore, you should devote even greater attention. In particular, for the Region, Wilke country, better data would be needed urgently, they emphasize. Walter Willems,dpa (smc)

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