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Getz glaciers on the run | Unu News France


Scientists have discovered that the glaciers in the Getz region of Antarctica are increasing in speed as they move towards the ocean. This new research, which includes data from the Copernicus Sentinel-1 mission, will help determine whether these glaciers could collapse in the coming decades and how that would affect future sea level rise around the world. Credit: Contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2020–21), processed by ESA, University of Leeds

Using a 25-year record of satellite observations over the Getz region of West Antarctica, scientists have found that the rate at which glaciers flow to the ocean is accelerating. This new research, which includes data from the Copernicus Sentinel-1 mission and ESA’s CryoSat mission, will help determine if these glaciers could collapse in the coming decades and how that would affect the future global rise in the level of the sea.

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The lost ice of Antarctica often makes headlines, but this is the first time scientists have studied this area in depth.

Led by scientists at the University of Leeds in the UK, the new research shows that between 1994 and 2018, the 14 Getz glaciers accelerated, on average, by almost 25%, with three glaciers accelerating by more than 44%.

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The results, published today in Nature communications, also reported that glaciers lost a total of 315 gigatons of ice, adding 0.9mm to the global average sea level, which is equivalent to 126 million Olympic swimming pools of water.

Heather Selley, lead author of the study and glaciologist at the Center for Polar Observation and Modeling at the University of Leeds, said: “

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The Getz region of Antarctica is so remote that humans have never set foot. on most of it.

“However, satellites can tell us what’s going on and the high rates of increase in glacier speed, coupled with thinning ice, now confirms that the Getz Basin is in ‘dynamic imbalance’, which means it loses more ice than it gains by falling snow. ”

Scientists have found that glaciers in the Getz region of Antarctica increase in speed as they move towards the ocean. This new research, which includes data from the Copernicus Sentinel-1 mission, will help determine whether these glaciers could collapse in the coming decades and how that would affect future sea level rise around the world. Between 1994 and 2018, Getz’s 14 glaciers accelerated, on average, by almost 25%, with three glaciers accelerating by more than 44%. Although each of the 14 glaciers has been assigned a number on the map, the names of glaciers 10 through 14 are also shown. Credit: University of Leeds / ESA / MEaSUREs version 1, 2016-17 (multi-mission data), NASA / REMA, PGC / IBCSO, GEBCO

Scientists used two different types of satellite measurements.

Radar data from the Copernicus Sentinel-1 mission, data inherited from the ERS mission through ESA’s Climate Change Initiative, and NASA’s MEaSUREs data logging allowed them to calculate the speed at which the glaciers moved over the 25-year study period.

To measure the extent of the ice thinning, they used altimetric data from ESA’s ERS, Envisat and CryoSat missions as part of the IMBIE assessment.

“Using a combination of observations and modeling, we show very localized acceleration models. For example, we see the biggest change in the central Getz region, with a glacier sinking 391 meters faster in 2018 than in 1994. This is a substantial change as it now sinks at a speed of 669 meters per year, a 59% increase in just two and a half decades, ”continued Heather.

Getz on the run

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The image shows the different flow rates of glaciers in Antarctica between 1996 and 2016. Thanks to recent research, scientists have discovered that the glaciers in the Getz region (shown in the black rectangle) are accelerating their flow towards the South. ocean. Between 1994 and 2018, Getz’s 14 glaciers accelerated, on average, by almost 25%, with three glaciers accelerating by more than 44%. Data from several missions (ALOS, Envisat, ERS-1, ERS-2, Landsat-8, Radarsat-1, Radarsat-2, Sentinel-1A, TDX, TSX) were used to measure this glacial flow. Credit: ESA / MEaSUREs version 2, 1996–2016 (multi-mission data), NASA, NSIDC / BAS

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The research, funded by the Natural Environment Research Council and ESA’s Science for Society program, reports how the widely reported thinning and acceleration observed in glaciers near the Amundsen Sea now spans 1,000 km along the west coast of Antarctica to Getz.

Anna Hogg, co-author of the study, said: “

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The glacier acceleration model shows the highly localized response to ocean dynamics.

“High-resolution satellite observations of satellites such as Sentinel-1, which collects an image repeated every six days, allow us to measure localized changes in speed with ever greater detail.

“Consistent and extensive sampling of ice speed and ocean temperature is needed to deepen our understanding of dynamic ice loss, which now accounts for 98.8% of Antarctica’s contribution to the rise in sea level.

Getz on the run
Led by scientists at the University of Leeds in the UK, new research shows that between 1994 and 2018, the 14 Getz glaciers lost ice. Glaciers lost a total of 315 gigatons of ice, adding 0.9 mm to the global average sea level, which is equivalent to 126 million Olympic swimming pools of water. These cubes positioned above Manhattan represent ice lost over time, and clearly show that ice loss is increasing. Credit: University of Leeds / ESA / Google basemap

By examining 25 years of ocean measurements, the research team was able to identify complex, annual variations in ocean temperatures. These results suggest that the warming of ocean waters is largely responsible for this dynamic imbalance.

Marcus Engdahl, ESA, added: “Without satellites we know very little about remote polar regions, so it is vital to continue planning missions for the future. For example, the upcoming Biomass Earth Explorer satellite will be able to perform measurements with a new instrument that operates in P-band to penetrate deep into the ice. Other missions relevant to the polar regions include the Copernicus CRISTAL expansion missions, which will carry a dual-band altimeter, and ROSE-L, which will carry an L-band Synthetic Aperture Radar. ”

This activity contributes to the efforts of the ESA Polar Science Cluster to advance our ability to observe, understand and predict the dramatic changes affecting the polar regions and the resulting impacts around the world.


Image: Laguna San Rafael National Park, Chile


More information:
Heather L. Selley et al. Generalized increase in dynamic imbalance in the Getz region of Antarctica from 1994 to 2018, Nature communications (2021). DOI: 10.1038 / s41467-021-21321-1

Provided by the European Space Agency
Citation: Getz glaciers on the run (2021, February 23) retrieved February 23, 2021 from https://phys.org/news/2021-02-getz-glaciers.html

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