France: Three years of observations by ESA’s CryoSat satellite show that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is losing over 150 cubic kilometres of ice each year. Melting of ice sheets that blanket Antarctica and Greenland is a major contributor to global sea-level rise.
An international team of polar scientists had recently concluded that West Antarctica caused global sea levels to rise by 0.28 mm each year between 2005 and 2010, based on observations from 10 different satellite missions. But the latest research from CryoSat suggests that the sea level contribution from this area is now 15% higher. “We find that ice thinning continues to be most pronounced along fast-flowing ice streams of this sector and their tributaries, with thinning rates of between 4–8 m per year near to the grounding lines where the ice streams lift up off the land and begin to float out over the ocean of the Pine Island, Thwaites and Smith Glaciers,” said Dr Malcolm McMillan from the University of Leeds, UK.