Antarctic ice shelf demise

New research, utilizing data from ESA’s Copernicus Sentinel-1 and CryoSat satellite missions, offers a stark view of the state of Antarctica’s ice shelves.

Over the last 25 years, 40% of these vital floating extensions of the continent’s ice sheet have significantly diminished in volume, releasing approximately 67 trillion tonnes of meltwater into the ocean. This loss is driven by a complex interplay of ocean temperatures and currents around Antarctica, with the western side exposed to warmer waters eroding the ice shelves from below. The eastern side, protected by colder coastal waters, has fared better.

The study, funded via the Polar+ Ice Shelf project, underscores the ongoing impacts of climate change on Antarctica and its potential consequences for ocean circulation patterns. Satellites play a crucial role in monitoring these changes, providing year-round insights into this remote and challenging region. The Copernicus Sentinel-1 and CryoSat missions have been instrumental in tracking these developments, with future missions (CRISTAL, CIMR and ROSE-L) poised to enhance our understanding of Antarctica’s evolving landscape.

Read the full article on ESA EO pages.