Loss of Antarctic ice shelf accelerates

Washington, March 28 (IANS/EFE) : The ice shelves around Antarctica have been thinning at accelerated rates for the past two decades, researchers say in an article appearing in Science magazine.

The study, whose lead author is Fernando Paolo, a geophysics PhD candidate at the University of California San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography, emphasises concern about rapid rise in sea levels around the world as a result of global warming.

Using 18 years of continuous satellite radar altimeter observations, we have computed decadal-scale changes in ice-shelf thickness around the Antarctic continent, researchers wrote.

Overall, average ice-shelf volume change accelerated from negligible loss at 25 to 64 cubic kms per year for 1994-2003 to rapid loss of 310 to 74 cubic kms per year for 2003-2012, they added.

Paolo and his colleagues found most of the loss was concentrated in the Amundsen and Bellingshausen seas on the west coast of Antarctica.

Those two regions represent less than 20 percent of the total ice shelf in western Antarctica, but account for more than 85 percent of the total volume of ice shelf lost.

At the current rate of loss, two of the ice shelves on the western edge of Antarctica could disappear completely in 100 years, according to the research.