Antarctica's floating ice shelves have lost enough water in 25 years to fill the Grand Canyon


Summary generated on August 10, 2020

    The volume of water loss from Antarctica's floating ice shelves over the past 25 years would fill the Grand Canyon, according to a new study published on Monday.

    The continent's ice shelves were found to have lost nearly 4,000 gigatons since 1994 due to melting from increased heat in the ocean as a result of the climate crisis.

    Although there was much variation in the rate at which the ocean is melting the ice shelves, overall the ice is melting faster than it is being replaced in Antarctica.

    Ice shelf loss does not directly impact sea-level rise as they are already floating in the water.

    Ice shelves form gigantic buttresses to slow the slide of ice sheets into the ocean and therefore, as they shrink, their ability to hold back ice sheets begins to falter.

    Antarctica holds enough ice to raise sea levels globally by an estimated 197 feet.

    Warmer temperatures melt ice sheets and glaciers, leading the run-off to flow into oceans.

    The research is based on 25 years worth of data from four European Space Agency satellite missions along with NASA ice velocity data and computer modelling, charting a detailed history of the losses around the edges of the continent.

    It is notoriously difficult to study Antarctic ice shelves due to their size and remote location so satellites offer a practical solution.

    Melting ice leads to colder and fresher water rushing into the ocean which affects the global climate and ocean circulation.