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Study Reveals Melting Away of Antarctica at an Alarming Rate

Currently, Antarctica's sea ice is at the lowest January levels since detailed observations began in 1979, according to data from the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre

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A new study has revealed that melting of the ice and snow from the entire continent of Antarctica has accelerated by 280 per cent in the last four decades.

The study released on Monday led by Eric Rignot from the University of California at Irvine, found that the rate of that ice loss has not been consistent, with ice disappearing faster in each successive decade.

Ice loss in Antarctica has increased from 40 gigatonnes per year from 1979-90 all the way up to 252 gigatonnes per year from 2009-17, a 6-fold increase.

“Antarctica is melting away,” Rignot told CNN, “not just in a couple of places.”

According to the research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Antarctica holds a majority of the planet’s ice and if melted, would cause the average sea level to rise 188 feet.

The study looked at 176 different basins around Antarctica where ice drains into the ocean and found that the rate of melting is increasing, especially in areas where warm, salty water (known as circumpolar deep water or CDW) intrudes on edges of the ice sheets, which “vigorously melts the ice shelves” by reducing the glaciers that act as stop gaps between the ice sheet and the ocean.

It did not find a corresponding increase in the long-term trend of snowfall accumulation in the interior of Antarctica, which had been previously believed to counter the ice loss and minimise sea level rise.

Antarctica
Antarctica melting away at alarming rate: Study. Flcikr

Another troublesome finding in the study was the fact that the sparsely studied East Antarctica has also been losing ice significantly over the same time period.

While the study is in line with with previous research that the West Antarctic ice sheet has contributed the majority of the recent ice loss, it found that East Antarctica was not far behind.

Rignot told CNN: “I did not expect the cumulative contribution of East Antarctica melt to be so large… Melting is taking place in the most vulnerable parts of Antarctica, parts that hold the potential for multiple meters of sea level rise in the coming century or two.”

Another Antarctic study published on Monday in the scientific journal Nature Geoscience compared the geologic record of Antarctica’s ice with the known astronomical motions of the planet and the wobbling of the Earth’s tilt.

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The researchers, led by Richard Levy of New Zealand’s GNS Science and Victoria University of Wellington and Stephen Meyers of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, were able to recreate a broad history of the Antarctic ice sheet going back 34 million years to when the ice sheet first formed — documenting multiple cycles of ice growth and decay resulting from natural variations in the planet’s tilt.

Currently, Antarctica’s sea ice is at the lowest January levels since detailed observations began in 1979, according to data from the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre.  (IANS)

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No White Christmas in Shimla This Year Too!

They concluded that Shimla's harsh winter, which normally commenced in November and ended in March, has declined after the mid-1980s

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What's better than travelling to Shimla this summer
What's better than travelling to Shimla this festive season? Pixabay

There will be no “white” Christmas in Shimla and elsewhere in Himachal Pradesh this time too. A mellow sunshine will greet you throughout the day at most of the tourist destinations with the weather bureau on Tuesday predicting open skies in the state.

“There is no significant Western Disturbances active in the region. Most of the towns in the state will witness sunny days till December 28,” Manmohan Singh, Director of Shimla’s Met office, told IANS.

He said there are chances of rain and snow in the state on or after December 31 with active western disturbances.

Temperatures have been unusually low in most of the popular tourist spots like Shimla, Kufri, Narkanda, Kasauli, Chail, Manali, Dalhousie, Dharamsala, Palampur and Chamba.

Keylong, the headquarters of Lahaul and Spiti district, was the coldest place with the minimum temperature dipping to minus 12.4 degrees Celsius.

The night temperature in capital Shimla was 2.2 degrees Celsius, whereas Kalpa, some 250 km from here, saw a low of minus 4.4 degrees Celsius.

It was minus 2.8 degrees Celsius in Manali, 2.2 degrees in Dharamsala and 2.7 degrees in Dalhousie.

However, foggy conditions would continue in low hills, mainly in Una, Bilaspur, Hamirpur and Kangra districts.

Una town, adjoining Punjab, saw a low of 6.4 degrees Celsius, 11 notches below normal owing to dense fog.

But excited holidaymakers, mainly from the northern plains, have already started descending on tourist resorts across the state with a hope of white Christmas.

Christmas
Christmas is celebrated every year to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Pixabay

Shimla, which had season’s first snowfall this time on December 13, last recorded snowfall on Christmas in 2017 after a gap of over two decades.

“From tomorrow onwards, most of all our properties have been packed to capacity,” a senior official with the Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (HPTDC) told IANS.

The HPTDC has 57 economy and high-end hotels across the state.

He said the arrival of the tourists in Shimla, Narkanda, Chail, Kasauli, Manali, Dalhousie, Dharamsala and Palampur is quite good.

The mountain peaks viewed from Shimla’s historic Ridge and Dharamsala and Palampur towns have been wrapped in a thick white blanket of snow.

Popular resort Manali is getting a good share of tourists as its nearby hills have plenty of snow.

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Snowfall has been eluding Shimla on Christmas since 1991 when 49 cm of snowfall fell on Christmas’ Eve. And except in 2010, there has been no white New Year’s Eve in Shimla in the past nine years.

Deforestation and pollution are blamed for the change in Shimla’s climatic conditions, says study by the India Meteorological Department.

A study conducted by Manmohan Singh, Director of Shimla’s Met office, and S.C. Bhan of the Delhi Met office, examined the snowfall trend in Shimla from 1990 to 2007.

They concluded that Shimla’s harsh winter, which normally commenced in November and ended in March, has declined after the mid-1980s. (IANS)