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Summer melt season 'getting longer on Antarctic Peninsula'

Washington, Mar. 28 : A new research from the Antarctic Peninsula has shown that the summer melt season has been getting longer over the last 60 years.


And the increased summer melting has been linked to the rapid break-up of ice shelves in the area and rising sea level.

Antarctic Peninsula's longer summer melt season has been linked to the rapid break-up of ice shelves in the area and rising sea level.

New research from the Antarctic Peninsula shows that the summer melt season has been getting longer over the last 60 years.

The Antarctic Peninsula - a mountainous region extending northwards towards South America - is warming much faster than the rest of Antarctica.

As a result of strengthening of local westerly winds, which causes warmer air from the sea to be pushed up and over the peninsula, temperatures have risen by up to 3 degree celsius since the 1950s - three times more than the global average.

This melting may have important effects as meltwater may enlarge cracks in floating ice shelves which can contribute to their retreat or collapse.

As a result, the speed at which glaciers flow towards the sea will be increased. Also, melting and refreezing causes snow layers to become thinner and more dense, affecting the height of the snow surface above sea level.

Dr Nick Barrand, who carried out the research while working for the British Antarctic Survey, led an analysis of data from 30 weather stations on the peninsula.

He said the team found a significant increase in the length of the melting season at most of the stations with the longest temperature records and at one station the average length of the melt season almost doubled between 1948 and 2011.

To build up a more complete picture across the whole peninsula, the team also analysed satellite data collected by an instrument called a scatterometer. Using microwave reflections from the ice sheet surface, the scatterometer was able to detect the presence of meltwater.

The team were able to produce maps of how the melt season varied from 1999 to 2009, and showed that several major ice shelf breakup events coincided with longer than usual melt seasons.

--ANI (Posted on 28-03-2013)

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