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El Niño Melting Antarctic Ice

Posted by Lindy on November 9, 2010

November 5, 2010

The melting of Antarctica’s ice field is contributing to the rise of global sea level.

A change in precipitation patterns caused by the El Niño ocean-warming in the tropical Pacific appears to be the driving force behind the disappearance of ice in parts of Antarctica, according to a new study.

Researchers from the German Research Centre for Geosciences said satellite observations show that year-by-year changes in the ice mass on the frozen continent correspond to El Niño episodes.

They found that the ice thickness in some glaciers is decreasing rapidly and ice streams are retreating back into the interior.

The findings from the GRACE gravity field satellite mission reveal that the significant changes unfolding in ice covering Antarctica are critical factors in global climate change.

The German scientists also found that La Niña, the opposite ocean-cooling phenomenon from El Niño, favours heavier precipitation and briefly causes an increase in ice thickening.

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