Satellites from NASA have come with amazing data about what’s happening to Greenland and Antarctica’s ice in the past 16 years. The findings were unexpected. Both of the polar ice sheets lose billions of tons of ice every year, and this ice gets added to the sea-level, which rises.
The results show that, even if there are small gains of ice in East Antarctica, they are also lower in comparison with the massive losses in West Antarctica. The loss of ice has led to half an inch of sea-level rise between 2003 and 2019.
The findings are based on info from the ICESat and ICESat-2 satellite laser altimeters. These are some devices that use laser pulses in order to measure the elevation and the thickness of the ice sheets in order to help us better understand climate change.
The research found that ice masses from Antarctica and Greenland will continue to add water to the sea levels, increasing it significantly in the next few decades.
Greenland’s ice sheet lost about 200 gigatons of ice per year, and Antarctica’s ice sheet lost about 188 gigatons per year. For you to better understand what that means, one gigaton can cover New York’s Central Park in ice more than 1,000 feet thick, and it would be taller than the Chrysler Building.
The study was published on Thursday in the journal called Science, and it talks more about the floating ice mass changes between the years 2003 and 2019. The floating ice does not contribute to the sea-level rise since it floats, and it’s already in the water. When the ice melts, and it falls into the ocean, that’s when it is added to the sea-level rise.