Large Antarctic snowfall increases could counter sea level rise, scientists say

Climate Depot | 1/3/2018 | Chris Mooney
MysticHeart (Posted by) Level 3
2013-2014 MODIS Mosaic of Antarctica. Courtesy of ‘National Snow and Ice Data Center and NASA.

Scientists have found large increases snow accumulation in a vast region of eastern Antarctica, a trend that, if it continues or becomes more widespread, could lessen the ice sheet’s contribution to sea level rise and possibly help mitigate one of the most feared consequences of climate change.

Study - Scientists - NASA - Institutions - Snowfall

The new study, conducted by scientists from NASA and several other institutions, examined snowfall in western Queen Maud Land, an area due south of the southern tip of Africa that is warming rapidly and contains 7 percent of Antarctica’s ice overall.

Based on a more than 500 foot long ice core extracted from the thick sheet of ice and containing a snowfall record dating back 2,000 years, the researchers found that snow accumulation levels had been rising since around 1900, and the rise is most marked in the most recent decades up through the year 2010. It’s a finding that aligns with the notion that climate change, by increasing the atmosphere’s retention of water vapor, is increasing precipitation.

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“We know very robustly that the present day is not anything like we’ve seen in the past essentially 2,000 years” for snowfall, said Brooke Medley, a NASA research scientist who was the lead author of the study in Geophysical Research Letters. “It’s receiving much more precipitation.”

Medley conducted the research with colleagues at institutions in the U.S., the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Germany.

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The work, she said, casts light on the large scale dynamics of how water moves onto, and through, the Antarctic ice sheet to the sea — a process of addition and subtraction whose overall sums determine how the ice sheet is affecting the level of the planet’s oceans. Antarctica overall contains about 200 feet of potential sea level rise.

A huge amount of snow falls...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Climate Depot
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