A group of glaciers spanning one-eighth of East Antarctica’s coast have begun to lose ice over the past decade, hinting at widespread changes in the ocean, NASA scientists have found.
While East Antarctica has the potential to reshape coastlines around the world through sea level rise, scientists have long considered it more stable than West Antarctica.
The findings, led by Catherine Walker, a glaciologist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre in Maryland, revealed that a group of four glaciers sitting to the west of Totten – the biggest glacier in East Antarctica that contains enough ice to raise sea levels by at least 11 feet were losing ice.
Besides these, a handful of smaller glaciers farther east, are also melting away.
The four glaciers west of Totten, in an area called Vincennes Bay, lowered their surface height by about nine feet (about 2.74 metres) since 2008. Before 2008, there had been no measured change in elevation for these glaciers.
Farther east, a collection of glaciers along the Wilkes Land coast have approximately doubled their rate of lowering since around 2009, and their surface is now going down by about 0.8 feet (around 0.24 metres) every year.