July 23, 2009

Large French Glacier Continues To Lose Area

One of the largest glaciers in the southern hemisphere has shrunk by a fifth in the last 40 years, French scientists announced on Wednesday.

The Cook glacier, located on Kerguelen, in France's Indian Ocean territories, was 193 square miles long in 1963.

Using satellite pictures and other information, glaciologists from the Laboratory for Studying Geophysics and Space Oceanography approximate that the glacier melted about 4.9 feet in height every year by 2003, losing 22% of its original size.

Basically, the glacier shrunk by 0.74 sq. miles annually from 1963 to 1991.

After 1991, the amount doubled to 1.48 sq. miles every year. By 2003, the glacier was only 155 sq. miles wide, 20% less than the amount measured in 1963.

The study has been verified by the Journal of Geophysical Research.

The article states that Cook's early melting could be accredited to the consequence of natural warming that happened after the "Little Ice Age" came to an end in the late 19th century.

However, the post-1991 melting is associated to hotter temperatures and less precipitation that started to happen in the early 1980s.

Other investigation in Patagonia, South Georgia and Heard Island have implied that warmer sea temperatures are causing "strong and accelerated wastage" of glaciers near Antarctica, the paper says.


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