Southernmost ice fields thinning by about six feet per year
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — The largest ice fields in the southern hemisphere outside of Antarctica are melting faster than ever — at a rate that has increased by 50 percent in the past dozen years compared to the 30 years before 2ooo. On average, the southern Patagonia ice fields are thinning by about six feet per year.
Scientists have been monitoring cycles in southern glaciers of the Andes for at least four decades, and have detected an overall loss of ice as the climate warms. Now the region is becoming a poster child for climate change, said Michael Willis, lead author of the study and a research associate at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.
“We are characterizing a region that is supplying water to sea level at a big rate, compared to its size,” said Willis.
The Southern Patagonian Icefield together with its smaller northern neighbor, the Northern Patagonian Icefield, are the largest icefields in the southern hemisphere — excluding Antarctica. The new study shows that the icefields are losing ice faster since the turn of the century and contributing more to sea level rise than ever before. (more…)