But is global warming over? Not exactly, researchers say. However, a NASA study found that Antarctica has been gaining more ice than it has been losing.
The new results are challenging those found in previous researchers, which say Antarctica is losing a lot of land ice – for instance the research conducted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) of the United Nations.
Researchers at Sigma Space Corporation – an engineering company – and at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, the University of Maryland in College Park have satellite data that proves the Antarctic sheet has gained 112 billion tons of ice per year from 1992 to 2001. The findings were published Friday in the Journal Glaciology.
From 2003 to 2008, the gain slowed to 82 billion tons each year, according to the paper.
However, climate scientists warn that this does certainly not signal the end of global warming. The authors of the paper also said that only a few decades may be needed for ice loss to outweigh ice gain in Antarctica, if global warming does not stop.
“I don’t think there will be enough snowfall increase to offset these losses. Antarctica is not currently contributing to sea level rise, but is taking 0.23 millimetres per year away,” Jay Zwally, a glaciologist at NASA and lead author of the study, said.
If the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change attributes the 0.27 annual millimetres of sea level rise to ice melting in Antarctica, but they do not actually come from the melted ice – according to the NASA report – then there must be something else that contributes to sea level rise, Dr. Zwally stated.
Scientists at NASA calculated the gain of the ice sheet in Antarctica using laser sensors on a NASA satellite between 2003 and 2008, and radar instruments of two satellites of the European Space Agency between 1992 and 2001.
Moreover, meteorological data from 1979 shows that there has been an increase in land elevation in East Antarctica, and scientist have come to the conclusion that it is the result of thicker ice.
In 2018, NASA will launch some tools that will help measure more accurately the ice changes that occur in Antarctica over time.
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