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Sudden ice loss in Antarctica affecting Earth’s gravitational field

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

In a recent research, a team of scientists have published that Antarctica is experiencing a sudden increase in ice loss which is causing small changes in the gravitational field of the Earth. Since 2009, multiple glaciers along a vast coastal expanse have disappeared in the ocean.

“To date, the glaciers added roughly 300 cubic km of water to the ocean. That’s the equivalent of the volume of nearly 350,000 Empire State buildings combined,” a lead study author Bert Wouters at the University of Bristol said.

“The fact that so many glaciers in such a large region suddenly started to lose ice came as a surprise to us. It shows a very fast response of the ice sheet: in just a few years the dynamic regime completely shifted”, added Bert.

The changes were detected by the CryoSat-2 satellite, operated by the European Space Agency.

The ice loss in the region is so large that it is causing small changes in the gravity field of the Earth. Such a change can be detected by another satellite mission, the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE).

In the last two decades, the ice shelves in the region have lost almost one-fifth of their thickness, thereby reducing the resisting force on the glaciers.

“To pinpoint the cause of the changes, more data need to be collected. A detailed knowledge of the geometry of the local ice shelves, the ocean floor topography, ice sheet thickness and glacier flow speeds are crucial to tell how much longer the thinning will continue,” Wouters concluded.

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A rise in 2 degrees Celsius in global warming could cause droughts

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A rise in 2 degrees Celsius in global warming could cause droughts
A rise in 2 degrees Celsius in global warming could cause droughts. wikimedia commons

New York, Jan 2, 2018: A rise of just 2 degrees Celsius in global warming could make over a quarter of the world’s land to become drier and more desert like, increasing the threat of widespread drought and wildfires, new research led by one of Indian origin has found.

The study showed that reducing greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere to limit global warming under 1.5 or 2 degrees Celsius would dramatically reduce the likelihood of significant aridification emerging in many parts of the world, the researchers said.

Aridity is a measure of the dryness of the land surface, obtained from combining precipitation and evaporation.

“Our research predicts that aridification would emerge over about 20-30 per cent of the world’s land surface by the time the global mean temperature change reaches 2 degrees Celsius,” said Manoj Joshi from the the University of East Anglia’s School of Environmental Sciences.

“But two thirds of the affected regions could avoid significant aridification if warming is limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius,” Joshi added.

For the findings, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, the team examined projections from 27 global climate models to identify the areas of the world where aridity will substantially change when compared to the year-to-year variations they experience now, as global warming reaches 1.5 and 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

The world has already warmed by one degree Celsius. As a result, drought severity has been increasing across the Mediterranean, southern Africa, and the eastern coast of Australia over the course of the 20th Century, while semi-arid areas of Mexico, Brazil, southern Africa and Australia have encountered desertification for some time as the world has warmed.

“Aridification is a serious threat because it can critically impact areas such as agriculture, water quality, and biodiversity. It can also lead to more droughts and wildfires – similar to those seen raging across California,” explained Chang-Eui Park from the Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech) in China. (IANS)

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