NASA study highlights Antarctic ice flow changes

NASA has completed a study that took massive amounts of satellite data to give a clear picture of how Antarctic ice flow into the ocean has changed. According to the study, the information gives the clearest picture yet of how ice loss is accelerating in the region. NASA says that the findings confirm that ice loss is accelerating from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.

NASA used a computer-vision technique that compiled data from thousands of satellite images to give a very precise reading of the changes in ice-sheet motion. This work is expected to provide a baseline for future measurements of ice change in the Antarctic. The data can also be used to validate numerical ice sheet models that predict sea levels.

NASA says that the data will enable it to determine the mechanisms that are speeding ice flow or slowing it down in response to environmental conditions. One of the most significant findings was the discovery of previously unmeasured acceleration of glacier flow into the Getz Ice Shelf on the southwestern part of the continent. Scientists believe that is being caused by ice-shelf thinning.

Some of the flow changes were significant according to the study, glaciers feeding Marguerite Bay on the western Antarctic Peninsula increased flow by 1,300 to 2,600 feet per year. The reason for that is through to be ocean warming.

What the team says might be its biggest discovery was the steady flow of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet. There was "essentially no" change in its rate of ice discharge into the ocean. The study also found that flow of the Thwaites and Pine Island glaciers into the ocean continues to accelerate, but the rate of that acceleration is slowing.