NASA finds evidence of widespread Antarctic melting


NASA finds evidence of widespread Antarctic melting

Rising temperatures two years ago led to widespread melting of snow cover in west Antarctica, according to scientists examining the impact of global warming on the icy continent.

The melting of snow cover in regions in January 2005 was the most significant Antarctic melting seen since satellites began observing the continent three decades ago, NASA said Tuesday.

NASA’s QuikScat satellite detected extensive areas of snowmelt, shown in yellow and red, in west Antarctica in January 2005.

It was also the first major melting detected using NASA’s QuikScat satellite, which can measure both accumulated snowfall and temperatures in various regions.

The team of scientists found evidence of melting in regions not normally affected: up to 900 kilometres inland from the open ocean, farther than 85 degrees south (within 500 kilometres of the South Pole) and higher than 2,000 metres above sea level.

QuikScat found maximum air temperatures at the time of melting were unusually high, reaching more than 5 C in one of the areas. These maximum temperatures remained above the melting point for approximately a week.

The researchers were led by Son Nghiem of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Konrad Steffen, the director of the Co-operative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado. They published their results in a book, Dynamic Planet.

– courtesy of CBC News

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