Several experts have expressed their disagreement regarding the results of a recent National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) study claiming ice gains are outweighing ice losses in Antarctica.

Experts said that the research refutes more than a decade worth of scientific investigations, including those that were performed by NASA researchers themselves. More specifically, the study opposes the satellite measurements made by NASA's GRACE mission.

Another scientist from NASA also disputed the findings of the said study. "There is no quality data to support the claims made by the authors of [ice] growth in East Antarctica," said Eric Rignot from the agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

"Please don't publicize this study," said Theodore Scambos, a senior researcher at the National Snow and Ice Data Center, University of Colorado at Boulder.

Jay Zwally, a glaciologist at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies and the lead author of the study under question said that the data used in the research was founded on enhanced models that were not employed in past investigations. He added that if this model was to be applied to other data, the results would match his more accurate claims about the real conditions of Antarctica's ice sheets.

The model that Zwally used focused on the motion of the bedrock situated deep beneath the ice. He said, the mantle of the Earth elevates when it is alleviated of the pressures induced by the glaciers and ice sheets. Such event happened in Antarctica; however it has not been entailed in old models of bedrock motion. Having said that, Zwally thinks that is the reason why he and other scientists came up with different measurements.

Zwally also explained that the old model did not consider the slow growth of ice at the center. Hence, his team estimated that the said undocumented information is approximately one centimeter (0.39 inch) a year over 10,000 years. Such data may be translated to meters of ice growing above the other ice. "And instead of the Earth coming up because the ice went away, it's going down because of that," explained Zwally.

The report released by NASA entitled Mass Gains of Antarctic Ice Sheet Greater than Losses, said that the ice growth in Antarctica, especially in West Antarctica has exhibited increased ice contents, outweighing the losses. 

Benjamin Smith, from the applied physics laboratory of the University of Washington said that none of Zwally's research data was incorrect.  He said that the different conclusions drawn by various studies were mainly due to data interpretation. 

Future plans of sending an expert team to Antarctica is currently in the works. The experts would directly conduct measurements instead of relying on satellite data and for this, Smith said the dispute issue may soon die down.

Photo: Christopher Michel | Flickr

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