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Scientists found severe damage to 2 major Antarctic glaciers in satellite images



According to a new study, scientists have discovered damage to two major Antarctic glaciers through satellite images.

Researchers from the United States and several other countries released a study Monday that found that two of the fastest-evolving glaciers in Antarctica, Pine Island Glacier and Thwaites Glacier, developed “open crevasses and fractures,” which they show. signs of their structural weakening. “

“These damaged areas consist of highly crevassed areas and open fractures and are the first signs that the shear areas of both ice shelves have weakened structurally over the past decade,” the researchers wrote in the abstract.

Decades of changes in atmospheric and ocean conditions have caused sea levels to rise due to melting glaciers. Pine Island Glacier and Thwaites Glacier are responsible for about 5% of global sea level rise, according to the study.

Damage evolution in Amundsen Sea Embayment.
Damage evolution in Amundsen Sea Embayment.Stef Lhermitte et al.

“Both glaciers show distinct changes over the past few decades driven by changing atmospheric and ocean conditions that cause more ocean-induced melting of their floating ice shelves,” the researchers said.

Global sea level has risen at a rate of about 1.4 inches per year, according to The Science Times.

If both glaciers rupture, “many nearby areas would fall apart, causing widespread collapse” and a significant rise in sea level, Indrani Das, research professor for the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration and Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University, he told the outlet.

Elevation and thinning rate on the PIG area.
Elevation and thinning rate on the PIG area.Stef Lhermitte et al.

The evolution of damage began around 1999 for the Pine Island Glacier and the evolution of damage for the Thwaites Glacier began around 2000 but “moved further upstream” around 2016, satellite images show.

Glacier “shear zones”, or areas of severe deformation, have increased by about 30% since 1992, with the fastest increase occurring between 2000 and 2010.

The researchers concluded that it is impossible for glaciers to completely collapse in the near future because the surface-level melt is so small, but the damage in the shear zones “makes them vulnerable to greater mass loss and mass line retreat. to the ground”.


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