Eric Rignot on West Antarctica Warming
December 24, 2012
Above, more of my interview with JPL’s Eric Rignot at AGU. Dr. Rignot, one of the most respected experts on Antarctic ice metrics, discusses ice balance and the impact of IMBIE – the recently published Ice Mass Balance Inter-comparison Exercise which brought together divergent data sets on ice sheet dynamics.
Timely due to this weekend’s announcement of recent observations of temperature increase over the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.
OSLO, Dec 23 (Reuters) – West Antarctica is warming almost twice as fast as previously believed, adding to worries of a thaw that would add to sea level rise from San Francisco to Shanghai, a study showed on Sunday.
Annual average temperatures at the Byrd research station in West Antarctica had risen 2.4 degrees Celsius (4.3F) since the 1950s, one of the fastest gains on the planet and three times the global average in a changing climate, it said.
The unexpectedly big increase adds to fears the ice sheet is vulnerable to thawing. West Antarctica holds enough ice to raise world sea levels by at least 3.3 metres (11 feet) if it ever all melted, a process that would take centuries.
“The western part of the ice sheet is experiencing nearly twice as much warming as previously thought,” Ohio State University said in a statement of the study led by its geography professor David Bromwich.
The warming “raises further concerns about the future contribution of Antarctica to sea level rise,” it said. Higher summer temperatures raised risks of a surface melt of ice and snow even though most of Antarctica is in a year-round deep freeze.