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Antarctic sea-level rising faster than global rate

01 September 2014

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A new study of satellite data from the last 19 years reveals that fresh water from melting glaciers has caused the sea-level around the coast of Antarctica to rise by 2cm more than the global average of 6cm.

A team of researchers, including the British Antarctic Survey, have detected the rapid rise in sea-level by studying satellite scans of a region that spans more than a million square kilometres. The findings are published in Nature Geoscience this week.

"This ground-breaking study identifies for the first time that the loss of glacial ice from the Antarctic Ice Sheet is not just affecting global sea levels, by adding meltwater to the ocean, but is also particularly affecting the sea level around Antarctica by causing the ocean to get fresher and expand" says co-author, Dr Paul Holland from the British Antarctic Survey.

The melting of the Antarctic ice sheet and the thinning of floating ice shelves has contributed an excess of around 350 gigatonnes of freshwater to the surrounding ocean. This has led to a reduction in the salinity of the surrounding oceans that has been corroborated by ship-based studies of the water.

Source: British Antarctic Survey (BAS)

Image credit: Mike Meredith - Icicles in Antarctica

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