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Antarctica Is Gaining Ice, Not Losing It. So What Does that Mean for Global Warming?

NASA data from the Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite (ICES) indicates that there have been "mass gains from snow accumulation" that "exceeded discharge losses" from the thinning glaciers.


Good news. A recent study by NASA shows data from the Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite (ICES) indicates that there have been "mass gains from snow accumulation" that "exceeded discharge losses" from the thinning glaciers. 

For a long time, researchers attributed the cause of rising sea levels to melting land-based ice and thermal expansion. However, this study puts the former under scrutiny on at least one major continent: Antarctica.

The data shows the accumulation of snow along East Antarctica adds enough ice to offset the glacial thinning going on in West Antarctica. This snowfall has been going on for the past 10,000 years, starting at the end of the last Ice Age. Jay Zwally, a glaciologist with NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, explained in a press release that “the air became warmer and carried more moisture across the continent, doubling the amount of snow dropped on the ice sheet."

NASA's data indicates that ice sheet thickness, measured by satellite altimeters, is increasing in East Antarctica and the interior of West Antarctica by 1.7cm. But researchers are still seeing losses in the Antarctic Peninsula, and Thwaites and Pine Island region that are unprecedented. If the pace continues, the losses in ice will soon outweigh the gains made by falling snow.

Zwally estimates that "the losses will catch up with the long-term gain in East Antarctica in 20 or 30 years."

This news also adds some confusion. Researchers have noted a rise in the world's sea levels since the 20th century--1,01 to 2.5mm per year.  Out of this total sea level rise Antarctica's melting ice sheets contributed around 0.27 millimeters per year.

"The good news is that Antarctica is not currently contributing to sea level rise, but is taking 0.23 millimeters per year away. But this is also bad news," Zwally said. "If the 0.27 millimeters per year of sea level rise attributed to Antarctica in the IPCC report is not really coming from Antarctica, there must be some other contribution to sea level rise that is not accounted for."

***

Natalie has been writing professionally for about 6 years. After graduating from Ithaca College with a degree in Feature Writing, she snagged a job at PCMag.com where she had the opportunity to review all the latest consumer gadgets. Since then she has become a writer for hire, freelancing for various websites. In her spare time, you may find her riding her motorcycle, reading YA novels, hiking, or playing video games. Follow her on Twitter: @nat_schumaker

Photo Credit: Joe Raedle / Getty Staff

Map: Jay Zwally/ Journal of Glaciology

The “new normal” paradox: What COVID-19 has revealed about higher education

Higher education faces challenges that are unlike any other industry. What path will ASU, and universities like ASU, take in a post-COVID world?

Photo: Luis Robayo/AFP via Getty Images
Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • Everywhere you turn, the idea that coronavirus has brought on a "new normal" is present and true. But for higher education, COVID-19 exposes a long list of pernicious old problems more than it presents new problems.
  • It was widely known, yet ignored, that digital instruction must be embraced. When combined with traditional, in-person teaching, it can enhance student learning outcomes at scale.
  • COVID-19 has forced institutions to understand that far too many higher education outcomes are determined by a student's family income, and in the context of COVID-19 this means that lower-income students, first-generation students and students of color will be disproportionately afflicted.
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Masturbation boosts your immune system, helping you fight off infection and illness

Can an orgasm a day really keep the doctor away?

Sexual arousal and orgasm increase the number of white blood cells in the body, making it easier to fight infection and illness.

Image by Yurchanka Siarhei on Shutterstock
Sex & Relationships
  • Achieving orgasm through masturbation provides a rush of feel-good hormones (such as dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin) and can re-balance our levels of cortisol (a stress-inducing hormone). This helps our immune system function at a higher level.
  • The surge in "feel-good" hormones also promotes a more relaxed and calm state of being, making it easier to achieve restful sleep, which is a critical part in maintaining a high-functioning immune system.
  • Just as bad habits can slow your immune system, positive habits (such as a healthy sleep schedule and active sex life) can help boost your immune system which can prevent you from becoming sick.
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Live on Tuesday | Personal finance in the COVID-19 era

Sallie Krawcheck and Bob Kulhan will be talking money, jobs, and how the pandemic will disproportionally affect women's finances.

How DNA revealed the woolly mammoth's fate – and what it teaches us today

Scientists uncovered the secrets of what drove some of the world's last remaining woolly mammoths to extinction.

Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Surprising Science

Every summer, children on the Alaskan island of St Paul cool down in Lake Hill, a crater lake in an extinct volcano – unaware of the mysteries that lie beneath.

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