Thanks to a new study which the journal Nature Geoscience recently published, researchers now know a lot more about the area where Antarctica is giving up ground to the ocean. Some of its largest glaciers are slowly eaten away by the warm water underneath which makes them melt. In order to reach this conclusion, researchers used Europe’s Cryosat radar spacecraft and successfully traced the movement of the grounding lines around the continent. These are exactly the places where the part of the glaciers that come from the land begin floating.
According to the new study, there is a seafloor area the size of Greater London that was previously attached to the ice. Now, it is completely free. Dr. Hannes Konrad says that thanks to the Cryosat, the researchers are now able to put the movement of those retreating glaciers in context. This method does require a lot of data. However, researchers are now able to build a service which can monitor the edges of the continent and their state non-stop. It’s more about the process of reaching the end, and not the conclusion itself, which is quite simple.
Researchers now know more about Antarctica’s state
It’s worth noting that seen from above, the grounding lines and their position is not always that obvious. This is because glaciers are extremely thick. To see the precise spot where they begin to float is almost impossible. However, Dr. Konrad and his team have done something else. They gathered these positions and combined the data with what they knew about the rock bed and the changes in the surface of the glaciers.
Thanks to this technique, they now have three times the data they previously covered. Unfortunately, the Thwaites Glacier is not in a very good state, while the Pine Island Glacier is stabilized for now.
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