Temperature will soon rise in Antarctica as the austral climate sets in the region. The Southern Ocean will undergo a stretch where there is a quick melting of ice at sea.
According to NASA's Operation 'IceBridge,' the ice level in the South Pole is at its lowest since the amount of hardened water has been primarily monitored by a satellite in 1979.
It has been known previously that Antarctica's ice layer had added 112 billion tons of solid liquid from 1992 to 2001. Between 2003 and 2008, the net gain has narrowed down to 82 billion which indicates that the ice discharge has significantly increased.
The space agency's polar project has spearheaded a system that observes ice changes in the area. Sophisticated tools are in place to measure level alterations.
IceBridge Project Scientist and NASA's Sea Ice Researcher Nathan Kurtz states that trips to Bellingshausen Sea had been done numerous times in order to get a periodic evaluation of sea ice development. Such study is intended to depict the future trajectory of the subject and its effects on climate.
This year, the NASA operation has extended its reach as the coverage included Ruppert Coast in West Antarctica to Recovery Glacier in the eastern part of the region. IceBridge personnel have scoured the South Pole a couple of times, a rare move considering that satellites seldom hovers the location. IceBridge has carried out 24 flights across Antarctica during more than a month of work from its base in Chile's Punta Arenas.
In one of the group's operations, a huge crack at the peninsula's Larsen C Ice Shelf has been seen. These shelves are parts of ice streams that eventually head off and add to the ocean's water levels.
Experts estimate the Larsen C fissure to be around 70 miles long and more than 300 feet wide. It is also around a third of a mile deep.
Glaciologist Joe MacGregor, IceBridge Deputy Project Scientist, shares that rifts don't normally end with the collapse of ice shelves. When the chink grows, it signifies that a portion of an ice stream is no longer attached to any grounded ice.
During the course of its missions, Operation IceBridge hooks up with other scientific organizations. This year, the team has communicated with the European Space Agency (ESA) as NASA's group flew under its counterpart's CryoSat-2 satellites.