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Big increase in Antarctic snowfall

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Posted in Science on 9th Apr, 2018 05:10 PM by Alex Muller

Scientists have compiled a record of snowfall in Antarctica going back 200 years. There has been a significant increase in precipitation over the period, up 10%. The effect of the extra snow locked up in Antarctica is to slightly slow a trend in global sea-level rise. However, this mitigation is still swamped by the contribution to the height of the oceans from ice melt around the continent.

 

Some 272 billion tonnes more snow were being dumped on the White Continent annually in the decade 2001-2010 compared with 1801-1810.

 

This yearly extra is equivalent to twice the water volume found today in the Dead Sea. Put another way, it is the amount of water you would need to cover New Zealand to a depth of 1m.

 

Dr Liz Thomas presented the results of the study at the European Geosciences Union (EGU) General Assembly here in Vienna, Austria.

 

The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) researcher said the work was undertaken to try to put current ice losses into a broader context. "The idea was to get as comprehensive a view of the continent as possible," she told BBC News.

 

"There's been a lot of focus on the recent era with satellites and how much mass we've been losing from big glaciers such as Pine Island and Thwaites. But, actually, we don't have a very good understanding of how the snowfall has been changing.

 

"The general assumption up until now is that it hasn't really changed at all - that it's just stayed stable. Well, this study shows that's not the case.”


Tags: climateAntarcticaresearchweather

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