Dramatic Loss Of Antarctic Ice Is Impacting The Gravitational Field Of The Region

by • September 30, 2014 • Nature, ScienceComments (0)3009

In a new animation, based on measurements from ESA’s GOCE satellite and the NASA–German Grace mission, shows that ice lost from West Antarctica has caused a dip in Earth’s gravity.  GOCE was not designed to show changes in gravity over time.  However, high-resolution gravity gradients that GOCE measured over Antarctica between November 2009 and June 2012 were analysed by scientists from the German Geodetic Research Institute, Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, the Jet Propulsion Lab in USA and the Technical University of Munich in Germany and reveal that ice lost during this period left its signature in Earth’s gravity.  The GOCE data complement those of the Grace mission, which was designed to show change but offers coarser resolution data than GOCE.  This has allowed datasets from both gravity missions to be combined, offering even greater insight into the dynamics of Antarctica’s different basins.  As Slate reports: Earlier this year, a separate team of scientists announced that major West Antarctic glaciers have begun an ‘unstoppable collapse,’ committing global sea levels to a rise of several meters over the next few hundred years.”  You can read the full story by visiting Slate.com.  (Photo courtesy of AAAS).

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