Scientists from U.S. and UK have found that West Antarctica's Pine Island Glacier, the biggest in the region, is melting 50 percent faster than it was in 1994, increasing global sea levels at an alarming rate.
Researchers at the Columbia University in New York and the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge, England said on Sunday that the Pine Island glacier is losing about 78 cubic kilometers every year. In 1994, it was only 53 cubic kilometers. The study, based on data from a 2009 expedition, was published in the journal Nature Geoscience, Bloomberg reported.
Stan Jacobs, an oceanographer at Columbia's Lamont- Doherty Earth Observatory and the study's lead author, said in a statement that due to a growing cavity under the ice shelf, more warm water is melting the ice. Because of the process, the global sea level is increasing.
The glaciers from the Amundsen Sea region are contributing more to sea-level rise than any other part of Antarctica, so it's imperative we understand the processes involved, said Adrian Jenkins, a glaciologist at the British Antarctic Survey and a co-author of the paper, in a statement.
A robot submarine was sent by the researchers under the floating portion of the glacier and came to the conclusion that the glacier had been grounded on a ridge for long. The ice melted free from the ridge that created more space for warm water to flow.