NASA study shows Antarctic ice sheet gains have outweighed losses

According to findings of a new study by NASA, an increase in snowfall in the Antarctic has outweighed losses in the region. This revelation conflicts with the 2013 findings by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, according to which, gains were failing to keep pace with losses.

This new study, which was published recently in the Journal of Glaciology, however, doesn’t completely undermine studies that talk about significant ice sheet, sea ice, and glacial shrinkage. Instead, it presents to us evidence of gains that previously went unaccounted.

According to those new tallies, between the years 1992 and 2001, the region experienced annual net ice sheet gains of 112 billion tons. On the other hand, between the years 2003 and 2008, the annual gains were 82 billion tins.

Glaciologist Jay Zwally, who currently works at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and happens to be the study’s lead author, said that he and his colleagues actually are in agreement with all those studies that talk about the rise in ice discharge along the Thwaites & Pine Island of West Antarctica and the Antarctic Peninsula.

Zwally added that their primary disagreement is regarding ice loss in the interiors of West Antarctica and East Antarctica. According to the team under Zwally, ice gains in those two parts of Antarctica have successfully outperformed the losses in other parts of the continent.

The glaciologist added that analyses of satellite measurements by him and his co-researchers revealed that there have been small changes in height over large areas of the continent. Also, they also found that small areas in the continent have experienced large height changes.

According to the NASA team under Zwally, these gains have come in the form of ice thickening. Previously, this thickening was mistaken by the researchers as accumulated snow.

During this new study, researchers checked meteorological records for establishing that accumulation of snow has actually reduced significantly over the past two decades. Zwally and his co-researchers also checked previous meteorological data garnered form the ice cores. They found that snow falling during the past 10,000 years has compacted slowly and turned into thick ice cover.

Experts are saying that these new findings not only show that increased snowfall in the Antarctic has outweighed losses; according to them, the revelations might also end up forcing scientists to rethink models used for measuring sea level rise.