Antarctic ice shelf sheds billions of tons of ice yearly

17:13, March 24, 2011      

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An Antarctic ice shelf is losing 6 billion to 10 billion tons of ice a year, according to the Institute of Geodesy and Geophysics under the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Lu Yang, a member of the institute's polar ice research team, said that an ice shelf of more than 100,000 square kilometers in southwest Antarctica is melting rapidly, descending 10 centimeters to 20 centimeters a year. The sea level would rise by 6 meters if the ice shelf completely melts away.

Lu said that the main goal of the research team is to determine the relationship between climate change and Antarctic ice mass changes. According to a map of Antarctic gravity changes from 2003 to present, the Antarctic ice sheet is gaining mass at a negligible speed in its eastern part, but losing mass rapidly in its western part.

Furthermore, their preliminary study found that about half of the ice lost in Antarctica is being lost to the sea. Their next research will be about the influence of Antarctic ice mass changes on China's coastal waters.

The research team won the first prize in the 2010 National Science and Technology Progress Award in Surveying and Mapping, China's most important award in the field of surveying and mapping, for their study on Antarctic ice sheet changes.

By Wang Hanlu, People's Daily Online
 
 
     
 
 
 
     
 
 
 
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(Editor:李艳程)

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