Parts of Antarctica gained ice in last 20 years after two decades of significant loss, study suggests
In the 1980s and 1990s, ice on the eastern Antarctic Peninsula was in retreat. A shift in wind patterns appears to have disrupted that trend.
Thursday 12 May 2022 15:47, UK
Some ice shelves in the Antarctic have grown in the last two decades, in spite of human activity heating the planet, a study suggests.
Ice that formed in the sea was blown into the shelves – thick, floating slabs of ice that form where a glacier or ice flows down a coastline – by a change in regional wind patterns.
Researchers believe this trend may have helped buffer the ice shelves from shedding ice into a warming ocean.
Ice shelves help prevent inland ice from releasing into the ocean, pushing up sea levels.
In the 1980s and 1990s, ice on the eastern Antarctic Peninsula shrank significantly, with the collapse of the Larsen A and B ice shelves in 1995 and 2002 respectively.
But between 2003 and 2019, 85% of the 870-mile long ice shelf “underwent uninterrupted advance,” they said.
The scientists from Britain’s Cambridge and Newcastle universities and New Zealand’s Canterbury University said their observations “highlight the complexity and often-overlooked importance of sea ice variability to the health of the Antarctic Ice Sheet”.
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