A recent publication by Thomas Jacob and John Wahr analyzes data from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) project, showing that high mountain areas are not losing nearly as much water to the ocean as Earth’s polar regions.
Earth’s glacier regions have changed over the last eight years: researchers report that such areas are losing 502 billion tons of water out of the total amount 536 billion tons lost worldwide every year.
The GRACE publication focuses on areas as the Himalayas and Andes and shows that these ecosystems are remarkably robust, whereas the same is not true for polar regions.
Satellite data confirmed that Arctic and Antarctic are the major contributors to rising sea levels, growing at a rate of 1.48 millimeters annually: this equates to approximately 500 billion tons of water added to oceans every year.
The GRACE Project, headed by Dr. Bryon Tapley at the University of Texas, consists of two satellites, one following the other in orbit around the globe. It measures minute discrepancies in the Earth’s gravitational field in order to track changes in mass (the amount of matter) through different regions of our planet.
One of the central mandates of the project – which has been making detailed measurements of Earth’s gravity since its launch in March 2002 – is to ascertain the source of the water being added to Earth’s oceans.
Thanks to satellites, from simple visual evidence it is clear that our polar glacier regions are depleting due to melting ice.