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Scientists count huge melts in many protective Antarctic ice shelves. Trillions of tons of ice lost.
A new study finds that four dozen Antarctic ice shelves have shrunk by at least 30% since 1997 and 28 of those have lost more than half of their ice in that time
Four dozen Antarctic ice shelves have shrunk by at least 30% since 1997 and 28 of those have lost more than half of their ice in that time, reports a new study that surveyed these crucial “gatekeepers’’ between the frozen continent’s massive glaciers and open ocean.
Of the continent's 162 ice shelves, 68 show significant shrinking between 1997 and 2021, while 29 grew, 62 didn’t change and three lost mass but not in a way scientists can say shows a significant trend, according to a study in Thursday’s Science Advances.
That melted ice, which usually pens larger glaciers behind it, then goes into the sea. Scientists worry that climate change -triggered melt from Antarctica and Greenland will cause dangerous and significant sea rise over many decades and centuries.
“Knowing exactly how, and how much, ice is being lost from these protective floating shelves is a key step in understanding how Antarctica is evolving,” said University of Colorado ice scientist Ted Scambos, who wasn’t part of the study.