The sea levels surrounding Antarctica have been increasing rapidly, more than the global average rate. Scientists can only point at a high rate of melting water from the ice sheet of the continent as the reason.
From the period of 1992 to 2011, satellite data showed the sea surface surrounding Antarctica increased by approximately 3.2 inches in total. This is higher in comparison to the average rise in the world’s oceans which is about 2.3 inches. It is not only the increase that’s quite alarming, but the sudden drop in the salinity at the sea surface detected by research ships that’s also causing people to take notice.
Once again, this drop in salinity can only be pointed to the freshwater coming in because of the melting ice sheets.
Craig Rye, head of the team who is leading this investigation on Antarctica explained the significant difference between freshwater and salt water. Rye is from Britain’s National Oceanography Center
“Freshwater is less dense than salt water, and so in regions where an excess of freshwater has accumulated, we expect a localized rise in sea level,” he said.
The ongoing studies are still unable to give a good estimate of the ice loss occurring or identify the specific cause of the ice loss.
Based on the computer built by the research team, approximately 350 billion tonnes a year of freshwater influx, plus or minus 100 billion tonnes, would explain the rise. This estimated figure combines the freshwater from the ground-based ice sheet and the thinning of ice shelves. Ice shelves refer to the floating ice that is attached to the coast, created when glaciers disgorge from the ice sheet.
The areas surrounding the Antarctic peninsula and the Amundsen Sea is where a huge amount of the melted water goes to.
In the overall picture of global warming, the condition of the Antarctic’s ice sheet plays a major role.